Sunday, July 31, 2022

Alphabet to Patty - Yippee - open space for random stuff

Which is better - something I spend a lot of time on even though the result is less than wonderful or something that was fairly quick and easy but the colors are so perfect and the idea is decent? I guess I could do two envelopes for each person and post them before I mail them and ask them which one they wanted. But, I'm not crazy. Remember when I posted the list of all the words for being *not of sound mind?* I think there is a word that is fun that was not on that list. Wackadoodle. I'm resisting the temptation to search for the origin of that word and to see if it was on the list - because clearly, I am not wackadoodle.

This envelope was in the stack I did with rubber stamps - and I did not have any postage stamps in mind - just looked for good color combinations.


Yippee - I filled the month before July 15th. I'm going to leave this page as a placeholder for random things that come up during the last two weeks of the month. 


Any random thing that came up in July has been bumped to the August posts. Thanks so much for all the lovely mail that arrived in July.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Hot pink clothesline to Sharon - Stoic reminder

This is another one done with Clothesline Caps. I did the clotheslines in white colored pencil - very lightly drawn. Then I filled in the spaces with polka dots. This one makes me happy even though it is pretty simple. I do love the feel of the white Gelly Roll pens on most papers. 


Reminders for coping. Recently, I have noticed that some of us are getting a little re-frayed around the edges by the daily stuff. My antidotes are making things and refreshing my lessons on how to apply stoicism. The verdict is out on whether making things is soothing. It's currently July 12 and my deadline to get my 20 exchange envelopes in the mail is July 15 - and I have 5 to go - and a few of them did not make my eyeballs hurt. I apologize if this sounds like complaining. It's not. It's just an observation.

Here's a quick refresher course (from The Daily Stoic) on how to stoic-i-fy yourself.

Stop complaining

Complaining is easy. It’s as natural to us as breathing. Complaining is describing something—an event, an experience, a person—negatively without any indication of next steps or plans to fix the problem. It requires little thinking and zero action. Whether it be damning God, the government, the universe, faulty technology, slow Wi-Fi, the authorities, or traffic, anyone can find something to complain about.

But what good has complaining ever done anyone in the long run? Sure, shaking your fist at the sky and venting your frustrations can feel liberating in the moment, but has it ever changed your circumstances for the better, solved your problems or made you happier? We’re willing to bet the answer is no.

That’s why Marcus Aurelius said,

“Don’t be overheard complaining…Not even to yourself.”

Friday, July 29, 2022

Fine-line flourishing for ChuckM - Ann Patchett

This one might not show up very well on a screen. In real life - it is one that I love so much I had a hard time parting with it. I might have posted it previously - and would enjoy knowing how many years it's been in my stack - if it was easy to find on the blog - but it is not. 


It's been a while since I've recommended a book. Because I can't remember anything, I don't bother with new books - I mostly just re-read. Although, I saw a new book (through library download) by Ann Patchett, These Precious Days. I recall liking other books by her - but I don't remember which ones. This one is a collection of essays and the first two are good. I should wait until I am done in case it fizzles out, but, I'm on a tight deadline to fill up July.

I also downloaded an audiobook, Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife. I should have read it a couple decades ago. Chock full of stuff to learn before you are in your 70's. I'm only on the science part. Maybe the *art* part will have some good tips to put in some of the August posts - where I plan to post more art related topics.


I'm over halfway through the Ann Patchett book and there is an excellent essay on being inspired to do a hoard reduction of her house. So far, I am liking all of the essays.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

5 labels to CathyO - summing up

Picture this one with the Celebrate stamp with the multi color polka dots. I thought I would put two on - and then the colors were off and they didn't fit that well - so I figured I would just put this one inside another one to CathyO. Back in June, I had taken some envelopes to my friend Jan's - and borrowed some of her rubber stamps. I really like this one - but as usual - I haven't done enough stamping to really come up with good ideas.


I paused to have the noon coffee when I realized that I could stretch this into a third day of jabbering. Smart Brevity is still on my to-do list and I can think of a bullet point way to tie up this topic. Although I can't find a bullet-point tool on Blogger. I'll use *'s.

* PARENTING can be complicated. There are a number of ways to approach it and it's not always clear if we were parented in a good way or maybe a not-so-good way. Personally, I felt like taking a different path with my own kids and being more *creative* since I didn't see my parents as very creative.

* Surprise, Mrs Wilson, your kids have almost nothing in common with you. They prefer to conform. I didn't alienate them, and have learned to just keep my creativity to myself.

* Are they GRATEFUL when I do random acts of weeding? Yes. Is it better to keep most of my observations to myself? Yes. Will my perspective make any sense to anyone else? Probably not. 

I'm not sure my bullet points are relating to each other and I forgot to establish the overview at the beginning. 

This does not seem to be either smart or brief - but, it's good enough. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

To Mary in July - Passing the torch

Mary deserves something better than this because she has been so generous in sending me extra envelopes to post. I did a rough draft on regular paper and then grabbed this vellum (translucent) envelope from the stack of orphans. The ink from the Sharpies is so wimpy. Grrrr. Plus I can't get crisp edges. Grrr. Maybe her name just needed to be larger.

 Yesterday we reviewed my background and the young adult coaching I got from my parents. I am currently learning how to coach my son who has his first house which is 100 years old. I didn't get to coach my daughter and her husband because they chose new construction for their first condo and also their first house. I have one piece of advice for anyone who has chosen new construction. Be vigilant about maintenance and plan on moving when the youngest kid graduates from high school - or maybe college. Buying a 1949 house in 1979 - we went through all the usual things a house needs after 30-40-years -- and it's an endless process. 

At this point, it would be easier to just move - rather than do any more big projects.

My son was actually inspired by all the weed pulling I did and he did more. We even researched how to replace a couple broken pieces of flagstone and are excited to do that. That was last week. This week, I figured we would maintain the momentum. Silly me. Someone has lured him to a concert in Pittsburgh. <sigh> 

When he called to see if I was available for pet-sitting -- he said, "It's going to be really hot and I'm worried that you are going to pull more weeds." To which I responded sharply, "YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME."

It's a two-way street. Little does he know, it's too hot to pull weeds so I am going to paint his living room. Nanna gets the last laugh.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Title IX to Debbie - Chores for offspring


This style of writing is usually called Clothesline Caps. If anyone knows who invented it, please let me know. At some point, I will post the envelope (from CJ) that inspired it. I love these stamps and will keep talking about the one from Kate that I just love - and then one day I will remember to photograph it and post it. My July envelopes were another set where I had high hopes - and then I found a stack of random orphan envelopes to use up - it's a real mixed bag - but then isn't everything. 

I think I need to make a tote bag with the word *MIXED* on it -- and call it my *mixed bag.*


On the 11th, I wrote about sneaking over to pull weeds at my son's house and his not noticing. Marilyn left a comment about cleaning cars for both son and DIL - and they did not notice - so she's not going to to do that again. Mary's take on the situation was that it was a random act of kindness. A third person sent a DM commisserating about how her daughter has a meticulous house - and Hulk-sized dandelions in the yard. She's taking the *silence is golden* route.

This reminded me of my own parents - people who had household and yard maintenance skills that were way beyond anything I could aspire to. They were not intrusive, but during the early years, my mom was always quick with advice and offers to help. My dad gets the prize for being the all time best yard service ever. I feel as though we compensated adequately with season golf passes, a variety of other golf related perks and plenty of dining out.  

Eventually, I grew weary of my mom pointing out things that needed to be done so I instituted a rule that if she said anything out loud about something that needed cleaning - she would be the one doing the cleaning. Voila. I never heard another peep out of her -- except when the inside of the car windshield got that weird fog - she'd say, "Well, I guess I have to clean the windshield because I'm talking about it." 

This topic is going to stretch into another day. I'm really scrambling to fill up July.

Monday, July 25, 2022

CathyO's floral inspiration

This arrived in June, from CathyO - the design coordinates nicely with the stamp and she included a card - which included the inspiration - which was wrapping paper. It's always fun to see how people spin ideas. Wrapping paper is one of my favorite sources for ideas. It's been fun to watch my granddaughter (Alex) glom onto wrapping paper. Both of her parents wait like hawks to snatch it and throw it away. Nanna has a stash - and Alex spotted it in one of my closets. She asked me to keep it. Of course I will. I'm thinking I need to curate a *trunk* of *precious* items to be passed along to her when I fall off my perch.

It seems like it should be carefully packed in a beautiful old trunk - but all I have are about 20 Rubbermaid tubs. They are so generic. But, they stack so nicely and are so light weight. I guess I'll go with the tub. It's hard to know what her taste will be down the road. 

Day one of Smart Brevity didn't follow all of the rules. My train of thought went off the tracks.

Here is Cathy's inspiration followed by the card. So pretty. Thanks, Cathy.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

SMASH's 4th of July & Smart Brevity

Thank you Smash for sending an envelope during the months I was not on the list. I was tempted to hold this one over to next year - but if I write 4th of July in this blurb, then it will pop up if anyone does a search for 4th of July. As I am following the suggestion discussed below - I need to remind myself to use words that are useful for searches.

The envelope included extra goodies:


Smart Brevity popped up on Axios - and I sure hope that Axios is not some crackpot scheme to take over the world and make all of us into zombies or food or whatever. They appear to be a source for news - both local and national. Several things have popped up that have been worthwhile (or entertaining).

So - when I saw Smart Brevity on Axios - I clicked on it - it seems to be a tool (or lessons) for writing - something I need.

  • Smart Brevity® is how we break through. It’s a communication style built on brain science that helps you speak and write more clearly to engage staff and stakeholders. 
My readers are not staff or stakeholders - but, I am sure you will appreciate my efforts to offer *smart* blurbs every day and go easy on the jibber-jabber.

You may watch a short video about it here - or you may read the main points that I jotted down for myself. It looks like they are trying to get customers for their consultants. Let's see how I do with my own DIY program. Maybe I can monetize and scale and take my blog *public* or option a leveraged buyout. Clearly, the coffee is talking because I have no idea if those words even belong in the same sentence. But, I was wildly excited that I've nailed No. 3. 

Smart Brevity

  1. Focus on what readers need not what I want to say
  2. Sum up the main point and say it in one sentence and say it first
  3. Write like a human - conversational
  4. Bullet points - not long paragraphs
  5. Be brief

People want simplicity and transparency 

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Chuck's postcard from Glen (Italian vase) - Senior living part 2

This is called asemic writing. It is by the late Glen Epstein, who taught at the U of Iowa. He was quite a character so this might be actual text. The flip side of the postcard is lovely. Thanks to Chuck for sharing. 

Another image that ChuckM sent - and I downloaded it - but not sure where the email is - but promise to update this when I find it. At least the image has a label. Giovanni Gariboldi 1935 - so you can do an image search to see more of his work.

 Yesterday's idea was just a scaled down version of my bigger, better idea that's been rattling around for years. Some of my artsy friends and I keep thinking that we want to end up in the same senior living facility when the time comes. The only way that could happen would be if we created our own. We've all been to visit people in senior living facilities and the facilities are so cookie cutter in design. We can't picture ourselves in that kind of  environment -- and the thought of returning to some avant garde, bohemian *place* that was an ongoing art project has way more appeal. 

Of course we would need some staff to help with some of the stuff - so we would have a wing for artists who needed studio space as well as a roof over their heads. I'm guessing they would have to be in a soundproofed wing - but we'll figure that out. Maybe a couple students from our local culinary school. And a couple nurses from the nursing school and a hairdresser. I think I need to research how many different trade schools we have.

I used to pester MrW to bankroll this fabulous idea -- but he usually muttered something about legalities, insurance, blah-blah-blah and made a graceful exit. I guess I'm lucky he's put up with an artist for this long. 

Friday, July 22, 2022

Sarah's jubilee and sweet note - Senior Living

Sooooo pretty. I love everything about this. The idea, the colors, the kraft paper, the details, even the challenging to read address - that delighted some postal workers, no doubt. I do not normally share the personal notes that exchangers enclose - but I just have to share this one - because the penmanship is so cute -- and the sentiment is so sweet.


How many of you winced yesterday when you read the words senior living facility? Most of us don't have it on our wish list but considering how unpredictable life can be, those of us in our 70s should probably ponder what our options are. 

My brilliant idea popped up when I remembered Mrs. Weaver (80-ish) who lived next door to us when we were first married. She had Miss Moffitt. Miss Moffitt (70-ish) had no family and was happy to hang with Mrs. Weaver. Miss Moffitt aged out of the arrangement and then Loretta arrived. 

If MrWilson decides to take his dirt nap and leave me to fend for myself, I'm thinking I should find some artist who needs a place to live and just have them move in and trade helper-work for rent. As the guy who hired me during the years I worked as a graphic designers always said, "Artists are a dime a dozen." In a perfect world, it would be someone who wanted to be a calligrapher, too.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Leslie's tetherball and Gaga

Uber-fun idea from Leslie - to turn the tetherball into a J. And I even have an off-topic that relates to games for kids. The tiny dots of red are really nice - because she ended up with 3 sizes of red dots - and that's a good use of the design principle: scale.

  Here is a fun new game that I had not heard about. Grandson, Ben, has been playing it at his summer day camp. Gaga. Gaga is a fast paced, high energy sport played in an octagonal pit. The more players the better! Dubbed a kinder gentler version of dodge ball, the game is played with a soft foam ball, and combines the skills of dodging, striking, running, and jumping, while trying to hit opponents with a ball below the knees. Players need to keep moving to avoid getting hit by the ball. Fun and easy, everyone gets a serious workout.

Nanna might have to recruit some other kids to play if I build a Gaga pit for the grandkids visit next year. 

Here is a website with all the rules for anyone looking for activities for rambunctious kids.

Maybe I should start thinking of a way to tailor it for elderly people for when I end up in senior living facility.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Chuck's *sunny* flowers - with apologies

In case you missed it - another one of those articles about the value of handwritten letters and notes. No mention of elevated envelopes - the frosting on the cake.

Chuck's flowers look great on yellow and echo the round shape of the sunflowers - which are yellow. I wonder if anyone has come up with a non-yellow sunflower. That would be silly. Chuck sent me the design for his December exchange envelopes. Once again - ChuckM gets the award for being the most organized.

We are 4 days from the 1 year anniversary of me bonking my head. I've cluttered my blog with brain chitchat for a year now and my goal is to return to more art and design. On the other hand, I get some pretty fun feedback from my rants and some of the other random topics. It's hard to know what my *audience* wants. Let's just go with *variety.*

Apologies today because I ran across this tidbit:

Once in a while, get in the car without turning on your GPS, and try to navigate through the streets from memory.  A small 2020 study suggested that people who used a GPS more frequently over time showed a steeper cognitive decline in spatial memory three years later.

 We don't need to have our PhDs in brain research to have come to this conclusion. I will refrain from ranting about the insidious undermining of our skills by electronics. This was from the NYT review of a book by Richard Restak, The Complete Guide to Memory. The people in the comment section have a wide variety of agreements and disagreements. I'll let all y'all make up your own minds.

You knew I was going to research non-yellow sunflowers. A few sunflowers hombre into orange. I saw one that was all red and then this atrocity which deserves a full day rant, but, I am going to refrain. It looks like a blood clot in the middle - and then leak through on the bandage. Yuk.

5:23 am - I still haven't figured out how to leave a comment on my own blog - but, when I read this - I decided that it is not a bad flower - it is a bad photo. I'm sure in real life - it is a beautiful flower - and that someone could figure out a way to capture the beauty in a photo.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Kristine's list of people


I'm pretty sure I have not mixed up my Kristines/Christines - or my Milwaukee people. I have a heck of a time keeping people straight. Anyhow - I'm 99% sure that this is the same person who sent that very fun photo of her door in an email - that I posted yesterday.

Also -- it was delightful to receive another envelope that had a *fun name* instead of the generic *Jean Wilson* on the envelope. Janet was the only other person who responded to that idea. (Although Leslie sent one to MrWilson - and counted it as a non-Jean) Kristine added to the fun by pondering famous women who would be fun to visit with over a cup of coffee.

Here's my list: 1) Georgia O'Keefe. 2) Sacagawea - because she would have a ton of good stories. 3) Rosa Parks. 4) That woman who wrote novels and her memoir (in 2 or 3 volumes) - but I can't think of her name - she lived in South Africa and then moved to Europe. Someone will know who I'm thinking of. 5) Ray Eames, wife of Charles Eames - designers of the Eames chair. I'm sure some others will come to mind. 6) Phyllis Diller? I always think of her husband, Fang, when I am sharing the sillier things that MrWilson does. Artist, explorer, activist, author, designer, entertainer. Julia Child?

Monday, July 18, 2022

Kristine's door

There will be an envelope from Kristine tomorrow. She sent this photo of the inside of her front door. The label on the photo is Front Door Honors - which is a charming way to describe it. At the end of the year, she does what I call *sifting.* She takes them all down - keeps some and let's some go - and then starts over in the new year.

She wondered what other people do with their decorated mail. I keep mine until I run out of space and then I *sift.* When I taught, I would take some of the overflow to my classes so that students could help themselves to whatever they liked - and keep it for inspiration - even though it had my name on it.

We'd love to hear from other exchangers about what they do with their mail art. Leave a comment (if Blogger is in a good mood) or email me directly at PTEnvelopes-at-aol-dot-com


Sunday, July 17, 2022

Rerun idea --- FLW desk and chair

I've threatened to pull old mail and re-run it and today's the day I did it. This was from 10 years ago and it is something that I could do today to get my last 5 exchange envelopes done. I missed my own deadline for getting them in the mail by the 15th - grrr at myself. At least we know that I am producing new stuff for the blog - plus I will have new stuff from exchangers. I would have liked this one better without that upside-down ornament - even though that was a favorite and inspired some ideas that I love.

 Shout out and thank you to ChuckM - who knew how much I would love this desk and chair design by Frank Lloyd Wright. The only thing better than the picture is the story that goes with it. Be sure to read all the way to the end - that's the good part. The envelope that I chose actually coordinates nicely with the desk.

When architect Frank Lloyd Wright designs a structure, he fills it with his futuristic looking furniture. In 1939, after designing an office building for the Johnson Wax Company, Frank Lloyd Wright dreamed up some of the most innovative office desk and chair sets anyone had ever seen. These long oval desks had three tiers, with a base and an upper part, held together by red aluminum pipes, and had three drawers on the right that spin forward, rotating when opened. The metal chairs have 3 legs with caster wheels, making it easy to pull out. However, with only 3 legs, office workers would sometimes fall off balance, and end up on the floor. When this was brought to his attention Wright simply said, “I am a proponent of good posture, this will teach them to sit correctly”. However, recent reproductions were made with four legs and no wheels, keeping everyone safe and the lawyers out of the picture.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

CarolynC - end of brain week

 CarolynC sent this envelope which she colored in and assembled. The tiny little name in the corner is and no copyright symbol. I did not see this in Anna's freebie section. She has coloring books, stickers, etc. Carolyn's choice of stamp is so perfect with this design and it fits in so well with the space left over by the name and address.


Thanks for letting me fill this week with brain talk. Since it is Saturday - we will put the topic to rest. But first, I want to say that it has been so interesting to participate in brain rehab with people who are involved with brain stuff and probably grow weary of hearing people say the same things over and over.

Maybe they just automatically agree with everyone - but I felt reassured when they agreed with something that dawned on me: Prior to serious brain issues - we don't really spend any time pondering what is going on inside our brains unless we have a headache. Then, if we injure our brain - we venture down a rabbit hole - where there is so much to learn - but memory and *stuff* is all *virtual.* There are no filing cabinets or DVDs or *hardware.* To look at it -- the brain is not that different from a fancy Jello dessert.  But - holy crap - it's running the whole show. Everything we know and feel is *in there* - but it's all virtual. 

It's *mind-blowing.* My best advice - don't bonk your head.

I ran across a documentary that I just loved-loved-loved. Do not be put off by Martha Stewart's involvement and narration if you are not a fan of Martha. There is nothing about her or her perspective in the film. There is some fascinating stuff about how people hone/home* in on what is beautiful to them. If you love nature and feel buoyed by being in nature, you will enjoy the parts about the transition from hunter-gatherers to living in dwellings - which eventually became towns and cities. And obviously - touches on how therapeutic nature can be.

Built Beautiful: An Architecture and Neuroscience Love Story. It's on Kanopy - and maybe other places.

* for the word-nerds - I had to look up home in and hone in - because I couldn't remember whether they were interchangeable. They are. Zero in is another option.

Details if you are interested:

Friday, July 15, 2022

Patty's popsicle - 4th layer

A yummy popsicle from Patty. I won't show the note that came inside - but do want to mention that Patty has been working on her penmanship and it's looking good. She did a pretty watercolor and printed it for the notecard. The paper is pretty slick so I am doubly impressed with her penmanship. For some reason I am unable to get nice penmanship on slick paper. Or maybe I haven't tried hard enough.


I guess I will jabber some more about the testing - because I need to fill up July. This is something I learned that might be of interest. Although, I would not trust me to have any accurate information any more. There are 4 layers of memory. The top layer is the *input.* Is your brain accepting information?

If the information gets into your brain, it needs to *lodge* or *stick* somewhere. This happens in the front of your brain (2nd layer) - and this was where I had bleeding when I hit the back of my head and the brain whip-lashed and hit the front of my head. So, it makes sense that most of my issues have to do with information not sticking.

If the information gets *lodged* in your brain, it goes to the third level where it is organized and pondered. I do not know what the symptoms would be if there was damage to that function and I hope I never find out.

And finally, the 4th layer is your long term memory - and I guess we can all imagine how hard it would be to lose that part.

There will be one more tidbit tomorrow and then I promise - we will move on.

For all the neurologists and neuropsychologists and my rehab tour guides who have stumbled across the blog - yes, I did make up my own words - because I couldn't remember the correct words. I cared enough to go back and find them on the piece of paper where I am storing them.

1. Attention

2. Working memory

3. Learning/Consideration

4. Long term - two types - Free and Cued 

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Mary's coffee - 3rd and final on testing

 This must be from Mary - as usual, I my downloads are all mixed up. Thank you to people who send images to share.  This is so cute. I wonder if she has a coffee stamp to go with it.

*** Add-on jabbering:

Here is the part that might be useful to anyone who is being screened for dementia. They dig back into the stuff that we were supposed to learn in school. I can't remember all the questions - but here are things you might want to review. Or, if you remember these things - you can feel confidant that you are retaining stuff that you might need. Shout out to ChuckM who remembered that Wistful Vista was the name of the street where Fibber McGee and Molly lived. That was not one of the questions.

What is the distance of the equator? I can't imagine why anyone needs this information - but it will be my go-to question for conversational lulls. I guessed 8,000 miles which would have gotten me 1/3th of the way around the earth.

How long does it take for light to reach the earth - from the sun? I had no idea and did not want to even guess - but they require a guess - so I said, "212,000 minutes" because I had just responded to "At what temperature does water boil?" so 212 seemed like a fun number.  Then the number 8 popped into my head - so I said, "No, wait, it might be 8 minutes." 

This made the person doing the screening laugh - because my numbers were so far apart - even for guessing. She did not tell me that I actually did recall a number that was pretty close -- it's 8 min and 20 sec on average. I looked it up when I got home. 

A few more questions I recalled: Who wrote Alice in Wonderland?  Who came up with the theory of relativity? Who was president during the Civil War? Who was Martin Luther King? What is the largest organ in the human body? Who wrote Hamlet? 

And ChuckM sent this link for the Fibber McGee and Molly fans:

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Leslie to Leanne - More testing

 This is a fun one - maybe watercolor - and then swoops on top - and some round stickers around the edge.  I should probably pick up some more polka dot stamps if they are still available. Thank you, Leslie, for providing extras so that I can get July filled.


While the non-verbal testing is wildly interesting to me, I'm not that bad at verbal parts - until it came to the dreaded story problems, involving math - without paper and pencil. Grrrr. I am good at story problems in math - but I must have paper and pencil. I struggled through and am pretty sure that I got them right or at least close and then we got to Mary who could bake 2 cakes in 30 minutes. So how long would it take to bake 15 cakes?

I quickly responded - 30 minutes. The tester looked up at me with an *I wasn't expecting that answer* look on her face - and asked if I was sure? I pointed out that I did not know how many ovens Mary had or perhaps she worked in a bakery with a commercial oven. Test-person chuckled - and agreed that the problem needed to be clarified. I doubt I get bonus points for pointing out vague-ness in the questions. 

Then we got to a problem that had so many variables I said - "Sorry, I can't follow any of that" - and we moved on to something else - which we will talk about tomorrow.

When I got home, I did a pop quiz on MrWilson with the cake baking question. His first response was, "How many ovens?" So - there are at least two people who are always looking for tricks in questions.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Leslie's to Janet - Testing

Thank you for the comments yesterday on weeds. This topic will resume on July 26th. 

Leslie kindly sent some photos of her non-exchange outgoing mail. Janet and Leslie do extra mailing between the monthly exchanges. Another fun option if you exchange - is finding a penpal. Leslie had lots of fun with those Innovation stamps. (I think that's the word)

Off topic - but a topic I love: testing. I've always been good at tests that involve puzzles more than words. So, that part of the testing that is done at brain rehab has been interesting. While my tour guides advise me  that I have done very well - I explain that it was much harder to come up with those answers and prior to the bonk on my head, I would have been much faster and probably more accurate." I don't know what they do with that information...because....

....later on in the process - there is a question that goes something like this: When you can't remember information - do you just make up fantastic stories? When I read this question, I busted out laughing - and asked - "Do the people who do this even realize they are doing it - or if they did, would they admit it?" 

I wonder if they score how many times a person busts out laughing at their questions. Actually, that was one of the questions. Do you bust out with inappropriate laughing? (it was worded differently) Once again, do people who do that - report themselves accurately?

The list of odd behaviors was sobering. Additional reminder to be grateful for all that is intact. 

More tomorrow.

Monday, July 11, 2022

From Ming to Alex - weeds

Alex(andra) was delighted with her envelope full of stickers from Ming. For some reason, little brother Ben decided that he needed that flamingo in the upper right had corner of the top sheet of stickers. Spirited *horse trading* ensued. I secretly video taped them - and will include the footage in my Nanna's highlights reel that I produce as soon as I get back to learning how to edit videos. It seems like a cold weather activity. Although, if the heat persists - summer is getting to be just as in-door-sy as winter. 

I have been sneaking over to my son's house to do some secret weed pulling. He works from 4 am to 12:30pm - so, I can take advantage of the cool morning hours. I kept thinking I would hear from him because I did not ask permission. After not hearing from him, I finally asked (via text) if he noticed any absence of weeds in his front yard. He only noticed a little bit that was gone from between the flagstones. 

Note to self: take before and after photos.

We have city dumpsters -- that pick up yard waste. He has the 64 gallon size which is large enough to conceal a fairly large (and flexible) adult human. I had FILLED the entire thing. It took me 40 years to establish a maintenance-free yard at my house - which is why I had to find weeds elsewhere.

My goal was to force myself to bend over and get rid of the sensation that my brain is sloshing about and I am happy to report that it's getting a little less *sloshy.*

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Mary's gnome for Alex - Ridiculous extreme?

This adorable gnome is from Mary. Alex loved it. Although - I'm having a weird feeling that I might have mixed up the names - and the kids are gone - and took the mail with them. If I have mixed up the names - please let me know.

The whole visit didn't really have any problems - but I could tell that I was somewhat inept at the usual multi-tasking. Between the weather and other un-planned events - it was a bit chaotic. 


Well, the Maldives have carried the grid-aversion to a ridiculous extreme. Apparently their islands are sinking or the oceans are rising - so they have designed new floating islands and went for a *brainy* patterned system of *streets.* 

I am withdrawing my rant from yesterday. Maybe grids are un-natural. Maybe it's better to just do the opposite of logical stuff. Maybe this is the way creatures are meant to live. Maybe the postal workers are going to hold all the mail at a central location and you have to come pick it up. I believe that system worked for a long time. Maybe it was silly to offer door to door service. I am curious as to how they are naming or numbering the houses in case you want to invite someone to your house. If the plan is to just rely on your *app* I'm thinking that is a very short-sighted plan.

Full article with details. I have no idea if the info I shared is even accurate. 

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Janet's pirates for Ben - street rant

Ben loved this envelope from Janet - as well as the riddle and stickers. Nanna kept the LEGOs that her boys collected (way back when) and Ben's favorite pieces are the pirate set - so this was a perfect theme for Ben.

It is a coincidence that my rant is directed at the place where Janet lives - but it is not her hometown - so, I don't think she will be offended by my rant. Who knows - she might even agree with me.


Buckle your seatbelts, Nanna is going to launch a Hulk-sized rant. Just skip it if you have other things that need to get done.

On the day During the heat wave) that the AC decided to take a break and Nanna had to find alternative activities that involved one adult staying at the house to wait for a repairman - she found two fabulous aquatic parks in the suburb to the north of DSM. 

The addresses are 2350 SW Prairie Trail Parkway - and - 1220 NW Prairie Ridge Drive.

In the olden days - and I am talking colonial - all the roads were twisty-turny paths that evolved into crazy twisty-turny neighborhoods that are still twisty-turny 500 years later - in the New England states. The midwest is a VAST PRAIRIE - with no reason for twisty-turny streets. The grid system worked for so many years.

Now - suburbs have reverted to twisty-turny streets. And on top of it they pick words like Prairie - and they add two more words - and they end up with 75 different streets that start with Prairie. Ridges, Trails, Parkways, Streets, Drives, Boulevards, Roads, Views - the list goes on and on. My least favorite word of all -vista. Good grief -- there are NO VISTAS on a prairie unless you build a tall building - and even then it's not a vista -- it's just scenery. To qualify as a vista - you need something more than trees and bumps - aka *hills.* 

WHY do they need three words for street names? The one that bugs me the most is Wistful Vista Drive. I think the street namers were drunk and there was a contest to see who could come up with the dumbest  name that would still be OKed. 

Thank you for letting me rant - as I wait for the guy who told us a couple weeks ago that our AC was in great shape for the upcoming season. At least MrW and Hunter were agreeable about taking the kids to a *fun-zone* - an indoor jumping and climbing place.

Here's what was inside Janet's envelope:

Friday, July 8, 2022

Not envelopes - Skating

This isn't an envelope - but it is paper enclosing items - and I liked the idea - so I am sharing it. The evening before the grandkids left, they were invited (with mom) to go out with friends - so I was home alone. The following day was to be the first time that my daughter ever drove all the way from DSM to Chicago - with the two kids - on her own. She was not worried at all - but, I thought it would help to have some kind of *mile-marker* activity - for the kids to get a sense of progress being made.

I found 6 small treats and wrapped them up in six different colors and shapes - and wrote the names of 6 towns between DSM and Chicago - so they could have a small treat to mark the progress. They thought it was lots of fun. I also packed a healthy lunch that they had to consume as they crossed the Mississippi River - which is the halfway point. 

I threw the *progress treats* together at the last minute -- and can think of so many ways to make it better. Maybe next year.

Another good indoor activity to beat the heat was roller blading. Thankfully, Uncle Hunter was eager to take them to an old school roller rink. Alex loved it - but Ben was self conscious. Maybe next year. It's too bad that roller rinks aren't popular anymore. It's great exercise - in air conditioned comfort. Plus, it's something you can do outside when the weather is nice. 

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Shark from Jessica - Food report

Another shark (from Jessica) that made Alex very happy. While Ben is still a bit nervous about running into a shark - but he is a wealth of information about all the different types of sharks. Speaking of scary stuff - their mom kept putting off watching The Wizard of Oz because of the flying monkeys. I finally texted her that it was too hot for a lot of outdoor activity so we were going to be watching movies. Alex thought The W of Oz was  really lame and groaned periodically. Ben loved it. When the munchkins started marching, he literally jumped up and marched along. He was fascinated with how the people in real life were actually the people Dorothy met along the way. I guess some movies are not destined to be classics forever.


 Trip report: My strategy for making a trip to Iowa as good as the other places my grandkids go is to relax the *treat rules.*

Day one: They had no interest in heading out at 8:30 a.m. to drive out to the suburbs to a brand new swanky playground. They did not understand that we had to beat the heat. The bribe was: ice cream afterwards. They were through romping by 10 - so we headed back to our favorite neighborhood ice cream place which has won national awards for their homemade ice cream. And they have added donuts. So we had both. Then the kids saw the candy display and I said, "Sure. But I'll hold onto the candy until later." You know you've crossed the line of common sense when the owners of the shop whom you have known for over 40 years wonder (aloud) if Nanna is using good judgment. 

Day two: One of the traditions from my family of origin is chocolate waffles and ice cream. My grandkids have only had them once (in 2021), but asked for them again. Ben the Bamboozler said he wanted them and then once they are came off the waffle iron he said, "I guess I'll just have the ice cream." Grrrr - first bamboozle of the trip. Alex only ate one. I made a few to toss in the freezer because they do make a decadent ice cream sandwich. But there was sooo much batter.

I realized that we had forgotten to observe Ben's half-birthday - so I poured the batter into a souffle dish and baked it. Then I cut it in half and stacked the two layers - it made a really cute half-birthday cake. He doesn't like frosting and neither do I - so - quick and easy photo op. He ate the cake and then asked, "Did you make this cake out of the waffle stuff."  Yes, you little bamboozler. At least he ate it;

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

From Janet to Alex - first half trip report

This is Janet's envelope to Alex - we all thought it was extra clever and Alex really liked the stamp. Alex was happy to see the shark. She talked me into watching the movie - Jaws. Nanna is smart - and made her watch it on my laptop - so that it was a small image - and then whenever the music started up - I just turned it to mute and talked her through what was happening. The music is such a big part of creating the fear - and the visuals are pretty minimal. If anything, she was a bit underwhelmed. Mission accomplished.

Inside was a handmade envelope
and stickers!!!!


As I write this - we are halfway through the grandkid visit and they are asleep at 6:30 am  which means yesterday was a raging success at wearing them out. Highlight of the trip for me is probably going to be the part where they were soooo impressed that Nanna makes her ice cubes out of water in little trays. Maybe later we'll go for a ride in her covered wagon or churn some butter. I actually have an old butter churn.

We have not even started the packing tape sculptures but they were wildly excited to build cardboard houses for Hunter's cat. MrW scared the living daylights out of me when I asked him to put a new blade in the box cutter and he said, "C'mon, Ben, let me show you how this works." Ben is 6. Grandpa has not heard the story of Ben's little buddy who ended up in the ER when the kid's parents left a box cutter out. Nanna offered a quick summary and tried to keep the smoke from curling out of her ears. Nanna has 3 more days to mull whether she even tells Ben's mom about this. She's vigilant about safety - because she was present during the box cutter incident. 


I ended up telling her in person - after she arrived to escort the kidlets home - and she winced - but did not fire us as caregivers.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Magician from Mary - random trip thoughts

An adorable little magician for Ben from Mary - and a cute card inside. Thanks so much, Mary. For everyone who sent mail to the grandkids - I did park the grandkids at a table with MrW to make thank you cards. He was not very good at getting them to put in some quality time -- but, I'll not complain. He willingly does a ton of clean-up and tidy-up and all that comes with kidlets.


Holy cow -- I just read the add-on part of this post (written on June 26) - and I sound positively loony. But, I do not have time to rewrite anything. I'll just delete the second half. Weird dream stuff - which isn't entertaining. 


Random thoughts on the first day in Chicago (Jun11). 

I just read my post that said I was going to try to do something different (with respect to my participation in the envelope exchange) and realized that my opening comment quoted Yoda: Do or do not. There is no try. And there I was - saying I was going to try something. I edited to try/do. But it dawned on me that sometimes *trying* is experimental stuff when you have been doing something. And how can you know what is going to work better - until you try it. So there must be two entirely different ways to *try.* I stand by my notion that repeat offenders in the common sense rule department ought not fall back on the *I'll try to remember that.....*  Goodness - the options to fill in that blank are sumthin' else. A lot of household rules and in an effort to be gracious - I'll say no more.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Janet's non-Jean envelope


This fun envelope arrived on June 4th. I had seen it in the USPS email with photos of my mail and wondered who Jennifer was and why someone would be sending mail to her at my address. When it arrived, I found Janet's name on the back. But, it did not say *open.* So - I emailed Janet and offered to forward it to Jennifer. 

Janet politely responded that it was for me and that I should open it. Then I realized that I had posted something about people sending me envelopes to post on the blog - but they could choose a random name. They didn't need to use my name. I guess I was expecting things like Dolly Parton or Mary Poppins. Even Occupant would have tipped me off. 

So - I did feel a little absent minded. The card inside is very cute. It says that friends don't let friends wear polka dots. I just bought a pair of polka dot socks. I hope they aren't a problem. As always - polka dots are always welcome on envelopes. And Jason Momoa has just released two new t-shirt designs that are polka dots. I'm tempted - but am currently more committed to my no-new-clothes vow. 

Sunday, July 3, 2022

From Ming to Ben - family stories

Ben was super happy with his envelope full of stickers from Ming. He was also impressed that all the leaves were hand drawn. The dinosaur stamp was well received. Thank you, Ming!!

By the way -- Ming did let me know what she used on her May envelope to me:

The pen I use is Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pen. 2.4mm for name and address. 3.8mm for leaves.
I use the same green ink for the wreath & address. The only difference is I add water to make it light for the address. The purple is ink as well.  


I get feedback that some of you like stories - so here's another one. When I mentioned MrWilson's learning experience at the gas station yesterday, I was reminded of his other adventures at gas stations (convenience stores). 

Once upon a time, *the phone* rang. It was a land line - back in the olden times when everyone in one household had one number. It was the Des Moines police department. I do not recall how the conversation went - but they needed to find MrWilson - because a convenience store had called to report that he had driven off without paying. 

I assured them that MrWilson was a lawyer and it was highly unlikely that it was intentional - and I would send him right back to the convenience store to straighten things out. When he got home and heard about the call he started laughing - because he had not pumped any gas. He couldn't get the pump to work so he just left and went somewhere else. He did get it straightened out - and it did not go on his permanent record with the police. It did, however, go on his permanent record here at 420 44th.

Second episode: he called me from a convenience store because he had lost the car key. That's insane. How do you lose a car when you are pumping gas? But, it's no use debating with someone who has a PhD in arguing. Seriously -*(1) So, I took him the other key. I listened to some very persuasive*(2) jabbering about how many places he had looked and how inexplicable it was. Mysterious, it was. Blah-blah-blah.*(3) Later, I went out to the car and looked around. Finally I thought -- Is it even possible that he did not think of the most obvious place - between the driver's seat and the console? So, I looked in that most obvious of places - and there it was. 

Naturally - he claimed he had looked there. <eye rolling> 

This is too much jabbering about silliness - In September, we are going to buckle down and get serious. I figure it will take a couple months to cover all the items on his permanent record. And those are just the ones I am willing to publish on the internet. The 3 numbered items will clarify things as I launch my project.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Sharon's jelly fish - heads up fellow dinosaurs


Sharon sent this to all three of us. The grandkids LOVED the jelly fish. They were fortunate enough to visit Hawaii earlier this year and loved it. They saw a dead jelly fish. Obviously - they liked this one a lot more.


I'm one of those people who always wants to time travel and bring people forward. Mostly the Wright brothers. It seems like they'd be wowed by airplanes. Or some of the early auto-people would be gobsmacked by formula one racing and rock star tour buses. Most of us think that we are keeping up with the times - and technology. But I'm guessing our days are numbered. 

MrWilson came home with a warning about how to use the credit card at gas stations. Apparently - some of the card readers (or all of them ?) have changed to *lingering-insertion* instead of what we used to do - which was insert and remove promptly. He had to get help at a gas station. 

I wonder which new-fangled thing or variation of a thing is going to cause me to retreat into a time-warped-comfort-zone. Do not get me started on (or restarted) on the patient portals. The only good thing about brain rehab is that they do not have patient portals. Clearly they have deduced that *some of us* are not equipped to venture down the patient-portal-primrose-path.