Saturday, June 22, 2024

May to Jean - gifting rocks

I finished the last four letters in Jean's last name - making the outline bolder. I left it this way in the photo so that you could see the improvement. The first name might have been better filled in with something - but not more of that texture - maybe it's OK. The amount of white space is pleasing to my eye. Those stamps can handle a bold name and address.


If you have just dropped into this blog - we are talking about me meeting a lovely lady (LL) and our mutual love of rocks from the north shore of Lake Superior.

LL said wistfully, referring to her big basket of rocks - "I used to have so many more - but there was that big delegation from (insert an important country) who were in town for a conference and they were here for a dinner and admiring the rocks. We talked about where they were from and the people seemed sincerely interested in the rocks so I invited them to each take one...... and wouldn't you know it, they took THE BEST ONES."

I had an immediate sense of empathy. LL had a luxurious life on multiple levels - and yet here she was showing that weird *thing* we get for our *stuff.* Later, I pondered that it was probably silly to think that some of the stones were better than others. It's more about our hoarding nature - or something along those lines. Do people who live right on the north shore have a *thing* for those rocks?

At one time, I had a nice pile of north shore stones - and now I have forgotten what happened to them. I think I gave them to someone who was gaga over them.

Friday, June 21, 2024

May to Janet - Rocks as *art*


This is before I added to it. On the stamp, the piñata is hanging by a cord - so I added a cord on this envelope before I mailed it. Photo will appear on June 30.

Just a heads up that the blog will be returning to complete and utter chaos through July. As much as I love all the new organizational components that I have instituted, they all hinge on me actually doing things. And doing things hinges on me remembering - and that seems to be beyond my current skillset. Not in an alarming way - just in a way that will keep the blog chaotic.


One of the perks of being a calligrapher is that some of the clients have been pillars of the community who live in houses that are the equivalent of mansions. This is Des Moines, so they are not like east coast mansions or Chicago mansions, but they're lovely - and inhabited by people who run in different circles than I do. They do have parties - so sometimes I'd have jobs - and sometimes I would meet the person (rather than their event planner or personal assistant) and once in a while, I needed to deliver the job to their home, so I'd get a peek into a Des Moines style mansion.

At one of these deliveries, there was a large flat basket full of beautiful stones. They looked exactly like the stones that I lusted after that are on the north shore of Lake Superior. I was compelled to ask, "Are those stones from Lake Superior?"

Why, yes - they were - and the lovely lady of the house and I instantly bonded on the love of north shore rocks...... tune in tomorrow for HER story..... it's a doozie. 

Thursday, June 20, 2024

May to Irene - rocks as tools


This one has some problems - too much white space - bad spacing - and the letters get bigger and go uphill. I like *wonky* - but this needs either more wonk -or- to be more composed. This one came close to being tossed. 


Talking about prehistoric tools yesterday reminded me of one of my favorite tools. After college when I moved into my first solo apartment I needed to hang a picture. I did not have a hammer so I found a perfect rock outside and used it to pound in a nail. I kept it around and a friend saw me using it - and bought me a hammer. While I appreciated the gift, I kept the rock around and in some ways, nostalgic-Jean wishes she had kept that particular rock. 

If you have any good rock stories - please send them along. I like rocks - have always liked rocks - and still need to control the urge to collect them. Another rock story coming up tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

May to Grace - anthropologist & statistician


We've been calling this style *Jordan* and there have been some variations. This is back to the original. I hope it is not too simple for Grace. For my taste - it's balanced and  (brace yourselves for this next comment) I actually don't see anything that bothers me. Maybe I should stick to my minimalist point of view. Somehow, it seems like taking risks and trying wacko stuff is what keeps people interested. No worries - lots of wacko stuff coming up.


From time to time, I get very interesting emails from exchangers. When I was writing about the origin of tools, like saws - Mary wrote this:

Concerning the saw, your information from the internet is as accurate as it can be. I have a major in Anthropology and worked at excavations in college (which feels about archeological these days), and nailing down (pardon the pun) dates on tools is complicated. It's mostly based on archeological record, so tools that didn't survive time don't get counted. It's all guess work. Necessity is the mother of invention.  I'm guessing saws were not far behind axes which are one of the very first tools. 

First of all: it's so much fun to find out a few things about people who exchange. I did not ask Mary if I could reprint this - because we've chit chatted enough for me to guess that she is fine with me sharing this information. It has me launching a 3 day topic that is (to me) not so ridiculous that I wish I could come up with something else.

If Mary prefers to be anonymous, I will be happy to remove your name and just call you *an exchanger.* But maybe there are other archeologists in the exchange who are delighted to find a colleague. 


And this just in - again - I didn't ask Amy if she wanted to be mentioned by name - so she can let me know if she wants me to edit this.

I'm just curious -- is there anyone who has kept all of their exchange envelopes and keeps them filed by the sender? Or kept all of them and has a different filing system? Please let me know - at ptenvelopes[at]aol[dot]com

Amy is making a spreadsheet that tallies the people who have been on the same lists. We decided to do this when she found someone on her June list whose work she had seen on the blog - but she'd never had on her list. So now - I will be able to see if there are any more examples of pairs who have never found themselves on the same list. Amy and I share some kind of gene or chromosome that likes to tally things. Although she has the aptitude to do it - I only have the curiosity.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

May to Christy - Chantelle Hoffman


I did a few ribbon-writing envelopes in April and then decided to do some more in May. I should have stuck with the April idea that had some extra flourishing and flowers. So far, I have posted the May envelopes in alphabetical order. I'll spare everyone and not mention the parts that could be better.


Here is a fun idea for kids who are interested in calligraphy or penmanship.

LINK to Script Kids IG  at the top is the link to the website. It's something that Chantelle Hoffmann started. Subscription for boxes of penmanship supplies to show up monthly. 

LINK to Chantelle's main website  - lots of pretty examples on her website. I remember her name from way back - when she was a youngster. She now has 3 kids. I wonder how she's managed to keep up with everything. Maybe her kids just love penmanship and sit around writing all day?

Monday, June 17, 2024

May to Cathy - Brain talk

This one changed after I photographed it and not for the better - but it didn't get worse. I colored in some dots with pale blue and green - also added Cathy's last name in the space under the H. This one came close to being a *deep regret insert* in a better envelope - but, I thought it went well with the stamp. That sheet of stamps is fantastic. I might have to get some more of them.


Another tidbit from The Organized Mind that we've probably all heard before is that there are 2 major styles of functioning - one is when you are focused and your brain is cooperating with the plan for the current activity. The other is that *down time* when you are awake, but maybe staring off at something and your mind is wandering and random thoughts pop up - and sometimes it's one of those eureka moments in the shower - when the creative side is in charge.

Those two styles do not operate at the same time. I have no idea how much control people have over which style is turned on or how to switch if you need to. If I find out, I'll let you know. But the point that resonated with me - is that they do not work TOGETHER at the same time. It's one-at-a-time. 

For me - this totally explains the weirdness of so many things. This might branch into some other topics.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

May to Amy - thanking people

 We have finished the Caroline envelopes and her daughter Tracy wanted to give some kind of thank you - if she writes something up, I will include it here - in the mean time - here are portions of texts that she sent right after opening mail with her mom.

<snip> ....we are about bawling. The envelopes and messages inside are just out of this world and from everywhere...<snip> 

<snip>  Again, we are overwhelmed with this plethora of beauty and creative expression. What gifts. It just fills us with visual joy. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you...

AND - here is my own personal thank you:

It's time for a blanket thank you to the people who send me things. I had a bumper crop of email and snail mail, and goodies (including stamps) in April and now I have the dilemma of how to mention it and whether or not to express thanks to specific people.

OK - it is not a dilemma - I'm too disorganized to have an accurate list of who sent what - 

So - gushy thank yous - in equal measure - to the people who send stuff.

Shout out to the people who do not write or email... I see you in the statistics and am gobsmacked at how many of you there are.... thank you for being *silent partners.*


The add-on came first - hopefully this little flip won't cause any problems.

Remember the Thinking of You stamps - and the really nice one I did for Patty and the so-so one I did for Paula? Here's what happened with AMY. I can think of a much better way to do it. This stamp has no blue. There will be some other envelopes coming up with other stamps. I do like the dandelion on this stamp and might figure out a way to turn it into a letter. On this one, I wish I would have put the dandelion over by the Y and then had the little seed-fluffs spell out f-o-x--

Saturday, June 15, 2024

March from Carolyn, Jessica, Kristine and ??? - Jello/gelatin

We are ganging everything left in the Caroline folder - because there are no more *pre-scheduled* blurbs. I will be taking a 2 week sabbatical from blurb writing - and tomorrow will be the beginning of a new series. 

Carolyn's envelope to Caroline is fun a steal worthy - side note: Caroline pronounces her name Carolyn which means people are forever misspelling her name. There were numerous times when clients brought guest lists with Caroline's name and I had to politely inform them that they had the wrong spelling.

Fun envelopes from Jessica and Kristine -- and then ......

.... somehow I lost track of which envelope included these pretty yellow roses. It might have been Lynne.  

Also -- apologies to Susan - I know I saw her envelope - but I can't find a photo - I'll try to get one.



I came close to deleting this because it seems silly - but part of the blog's vibe is a little bit of silly from time to time. 

As promised - we will ponder Jello - however, in the UK it is called jelly. On IG there are videos of the molded items jiggling in slow motion. I imagine our coastal readers are rolling their eyes at all of this. Jello is a very midwestern thing. Although - with the way the costal people like crazy *new* things, it would not surprise me if gelatin based desserts will have their *moment* at some point.

and this is not my friend Caroline - it's another Caroline.

Friday, June 14, 2024

March from Lynne to Caroline - Catnaps for brains


Here is another bluebird of happiness from Lynne. When I was writing the blurb with Irene's bluebirds of happiness, I did not think there was any way that a search for where that expression came from would yield anything fun or interesting. Now - a few days later - as I am down to the very last 2 Caroline posts - I find myself needing to avoid the inevitable end-of-an-easy-task and return to the drudgery of life in a house with a yard and meals and laundry... so I searched - and if you need all kinds of fun info about bluebirds and why they have a long history of popping up in legends, stories, movies, poems, etc - here you go:

LINK to bluebird of happiness on Wiki


I only recommend this book (The Organized Mind) if you want to delve into all kinds of technical things with new words to remember. My Cliffy-Notes version might be tedious enough.

A point to keep *in mind* - I'm pretty sure *mind* is the part that *they* can't really figure out. They have figured out that we have all kinds of complicated *networks* in our head. And they can see the tangible parts - we could call it the *hardware* - but there is a ton of stuff going on that is intangible and not understood at all.

Here's the part *we* can understand. Your brain has all kinds of activities - but they do not all switch on when you wake up and stay on all day. We know that our brains are mostly *shut down* when we sleep - but recently it has been discovered that parts of our brain will literally *switch off* or go to sleep when we are not using them - to take little catnaps - and conserve energy - while we are still awake.

So THAT explains all the stupid forgetful stuff you do every day. YOU are not doing anything wrong - your brain is trying very hard to function - but it has this complicated operational system - and if the part of your brain that was going to bring the grocery list is napping as you collect your phone/wallet/keys and walk out the door --- then you'll end up at the store without your list.

Of course you could take a photo of the list - but that would require another part of your brain to be awake. The point is - don't be mad at yourself for all the things that go wrong. Keep track of all the things you actually accomplish. 

Thursday, June 13, 2024

March from Sharen to Caroline - The Organized Mind

Sharen, a newer exchanger, is launching her adventure with Spencerian. She also included some fun goodies inside the envelope. As I write this - it is the day after I received more Spencerian from her in the April exchange. Apparently she does not have a FearOfJean - and asked me for feedback. For anyone who has done a lot of copperplate - and then tries Spencerian - some of us who do something we call Spencerplate. It has qualities of both. I actually love Spencerplate - and think it deserves respect and to be a valid style. Spencerian has HUGE caps and tiny little lower case. Spencerplate keeps the proportion of cap to l.c. more like copperplate. The other difference is that Spencerian was designed to be a running hand, one used for writing letters - so it is often very s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d o-u-t. This can make it very hard to fit on an envelope. People who love the original Spencerian often use business sized envelopes to make things fit better.


While we do not get any clear answers, I did get food for thought from - The Organized Mind by Daniel J. Levitin. Keep in mind, I only listen to books and my memory is sketchy - but, this might be close to what was written.

As *they* keep getting better at *seeing* how the brain works - there was something about the part of the brain that is associated with creativity and art - that lights up in the same way that the part that involves morals or something along those lines lights up. I'm using morals as the *thing* that would -in theory- make people be nice and polite.

<more snipping here - and eventually I wrote> - art became a *deeper thing.* 

And when I say art - I include music, theater, dance, sports, gardening, and every other activity that gives people that sense of *whatever.* 

There's another part of this to add - tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

March Troy to Caroline - unanswerable why's

 Troy is my go-to person when my *musings* veer into topics that are too heavy. Troy has a lovely sense of humor and during these trying times - we need to keep things light. Wreaths are like polka dots - universally lovely and should be on one of those lists I pull up when I need an idea.


That dead end we reached yesterday still weighs on my mind. It started with *why can't we all be polite* which is just a variation of *why can't we all get along....*

Don't bother Googling that question - there are a gazillion theories......  <snip>  I had to snip some chatter that was off in a direction that was too serious. The only part of *cultural differences* I care to talk about is how zany the people of New Orleans are. I loved the stories about celebrations that Troy shared with us. I suspect that once it gets HOT-HOT-HOT - there are fewer celebrations....but maybe not. Troy is welcome to shed some light on the topic.

There was more snipping - and then I wrote this: In some ways - I do think there is a common thread. Not one that will resolve any situations - but a nice one to keep in mind ---- something I read in another one of those *brain books.* More tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

March from Juliana to Caroline -- politeness dead end


Juliana went with the blue + flower suggestion. She's also done the thing that I am doing quite often which is to corral the design in a panel on the left - leaving space for the address to be clear and scanner-friendly. 

Writing all these blurbs about Caroline has nudged so many memories out of the dusty parts of my brain. She used to show up at my studio, sometimes with co-hostess friends, needing custom invitations. It was always fun to work on her projects. It's too bad that so much of my work was done before phone-photos became a part of our lives. It would have been fun to have an archive of everything I designed for Caroline. I remember one invitation printed on brown paper bags. We had to figure out how to run them through the printer.


Yesterday I asked why it's so hard to be polite. I Googled the question and there were a variety of reasons. The one that popped out at me was *cultural differences.* That's a big one and it's not limited to the differences between brash Americans and not-brash other countries. I chose that example to be polite. Not all of us are brash - I know I've come across as brash - when inside my own head, I'm shy and retiring.

It still bothers me that there have been times when I was making a concerted effort to be diplomatic and polite - but my words came across as anything but.

This is a side-track that went off on a tangent - and I came back and edited it - so this is now a dead end.

Monday, June 10, 2024

March from Kate and Mary to Caroline - Legislating politeness


It's too bad that the top one from Kate got wet. It's the Ben Shahn lettering which I keep thinking I will return to. It has a puzzle quality - figuring out clever ways to join letters and which variation to use. Mary sent a nice lacy design - perfect for Carolyn.


Did anyone remember that on April 14th when Scarlet posted the answer to my *Me and Kate are going to lunch* grammar question - I said we would return to the topic on June 10? 

To recap - the grammatical rules about *me* and *I* only cover when we are talking about subject or object - and while I have that rule very clear in my head - I'm not going to get into it. You may read about it at Scarlet's link. LINK to a grammar lesson

Putting the other person first, prior to using *I* or *me* is not a grammatical rule. And, to be honest, it seems like there have always been gradual changes - so it's time to let this go.


For the those of you who either crossed paths with Alan Blackman or recall any of the times I wrote about him on the blog - he passed away on June 6th. His niece had let people know that he had been moved to a hospice and she posted her email so that people could send messages. This is what she wrote:

Hello lovely people, thank you all for your well wishes and love for Alan. I spent all day today reading them to him and showing him the pictures. He was mostly asleep but I felt like he heard me, I know for sure he heard some of them because he responded with his expressions. I told him he was being carried on this journey on an infinite cloud of love. He waited until I left and then he left too, not a half hour later. The doc said he was completely comfortable, no distress.

All my love to you who loved him.


If this is the first you've heard of Alan - you may do a search on the blog and see what all I have had to share about him. His envelopes were inspirational to me when I first connected with calligraphy and I credit him (along with Cheryl Adams) for my journey down the mail-art path.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

March from Paula and Jean to Caroline - Paper sculpture


Following my suggestion to send flowery designs to Caroline, Paula came up with a good idea. My idea was to copy one of my favorite envelopes from someone who sent me a Royal Copenhagen inspired envelope. My version did not please me - but it was a one off - so I'm sure I could do better if I took the time. I think Caroline has Royal Copenhagen dishes. As I list off all of her aesthetic skills, I must include anything relating to food, plating, table setting, flower arranging - from tea time to a grand event. 


Since giant cardboard sculpture is not going to happen for me - here is something that is totally within my realm.... paper sculpture. So many sizes - so many different directions - so intriguing. Trust me, if you like paper - and have a few minutes to surf - this is a fun one.

LINK to Ann Weber sculpture

It was hard to choose just one image. This one shows the detail as well as the scale. This could inspire anything from jewelry to a bas-relief that covered an entire wall.....

Saturday, June 8, 2024

March to Caroline from Patty - Cardboard


Lovely blue and white design from Patty - and it goes nicely with the stamp. I think this might be a riff on an idea from The Postman's Knock. Lindsey has a ton of fun ideas. I did not take time to go look at the idea that I think I'd find on her site - but I think Patty did her own interpretation - which is what I often recommend - and now I am tempted to do my version.


Making things out of cardboard has come up a few times on the blog. Recently a friend of mine mentioned that her grandson in Minneapolis goes to Cardboard Camp. I Googled it and was awestruck at how cool it is. It leans towards boys building castles and armor and weapons - and that's a hard lean. I can see how and why it leans that way - and it's too bad that there is not an equivalent genre of *play* for the girls. I've been wracking my brain for what kind of cardboard construction would be welcoming to girls - and the only thing I could think of was for girls to build replicas of the Barbie Houses - which is not a bad idea at all. But - if anyone is going to launch Barbie Camp - it's going to have to be Mattel - and I doubt they'd be interested.

LINK to Cardboard camp IG

LINK to website

Interesting to note that in addition to Minneapolis, there are camps in New Orleans and Helena, Montana. It appears that the one in Helena is affiliated with their art museum.

Friday, June 7, 2024

March to Caroline from Grace - Fashion report


Grace is a professional envelope addresser. Is there a more official name? If not, there should be. Seems odd that this is the first time I have wondered about a job title considering the number of years I addressed envelopes for hire. I guess we call ourselves calligraphers. Sometimes I would write *scribe* when filling out forms that asked for an occupation. 

The card is steal-worthy. 


From time to time I do fashion reports which is absurd coming from me because my two favorite pairs of pants (no - make that three) are hand-me-ups from my boys. I did see an article that deck shoes (Sperry topsiders) are going to be hot this season. I have two pair that I have been saving for special occasions. That is also absurd, since deck shoes are clearly not special occasion shoes.

I first met Caroline when I was engaged to MrWilson and our paths crossed at prenuptial parties for many of MrWilson's friends. Des Moines is small townish in that a lot of families are 3rd and 4th generation in the older part of town. I always enjoyed seeing what Caroline was wearing and one time she wore a white T-shirt with a jean skirt to a prenuptial party. It was an unexpected choice. The t-shirt had a grid of 9 hearts on the front - so that made it appropriate - plus it was outside in the summertime. I think she could get away with pushing the envelope because she was stylish. Even at 97 I've noticed how cute her clothes are.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

March to Caroline from Leslie - POV


Leslie's envelope for Caroline is a perfect sentiment. Caroline has been one of those people who provided a lot of sunshine and rainbows to many people. She was gifted at so many aesthetic things. With her close friends, she had a polite way of suggesting alternative room arrangements - and her close friends were happy to have Caroline rearrange the furniture. Her suggestions were always improvements. As word got around - and more people were calling her to come look at their rooms and make suggestions, she ended up turning it into a business. It wasn't full service interior design - she just offered suggestions to people who preferred to execute the ideas on their own. To me, it was a unique idea for a business - and it certainly spread sunshine - because there are plenty of people who don't have a big budget for interior design - but they need some help pulling things together and choosing colors.


Back on April 20th I was jabbering about POV and wondering if it meant *point of view* and also wondering if it was a trendy term - and wondered if I was up on that trend if it was a trend - and then I thought that as *we* get older it gets harder to keep track of trends.

I've been re-watching some of the old Project Runway programs and they talk about point of view quite often. I always enjoyed the program because it involved an assignment (design challenge) and the conversation included all the things I remembered from design classes. I've been surprised that while I recall some of the people, I had completely forgotten the challenges and what they made. 


This just in - from Clover - a new online magazine for stamp collectors.

LINK to StampED magazine

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

March to Caroline from Christy and Sharon - penmanship


Christy bounced the eggs out of the basket - which is a fun way to pull a design element off the stamp. I especially like the way she wrote Caroline in script over the top of the block lettered Caroline. I shall be appropriating this idea (hopefully I'll r.e.m.e.m.b.e.r.) I know how to stack two names - the part I never thought about was stacking the same name.

Sharon went with the Easter egg theme as well - the little chicks on the envelope are checking out the crane on the stamp.


The USPS has *Informed Delivery* where they will send you an email with scans of the mail that is arriving. On April 10, I was anticipating maybe one or two exchange envelopes - since there are usually a few that arrive before the middle of the month. Instead I found this:

I cropped it - to make the image larger. I also did a search for the Elliotts at 420 49th - which is 5 blocks west of me. This is perplexing penmanship. Clearly, the person has an interest in *flair* which we see on the T. That *th* thing after the 49 is not really anything - just a squiggle - but it relates to the flair at the beginning.

Obviously - the way the *th* touches the 9 - the scanner thought it was a 4. Perhaps the carrier will notice it and not deliver it to my house. My son who did some delivering when he first *went postal* says that they are supposed to flip through the stack of mail as they walk from house to house and confirm that the sorting has been done correctly. But, I can't imagine someone double checking every piece of mail.

Am I tempted to sit on the front steps all day to make sure I greet my carrier and see whether it makes it all the way to my house. Yes - tempted - but will not actually do that.

Why is the S in Elliotts so large? Why is the i so small? The dot is larger than the stroke. And the i in Moines is just the dot. And look at the 2s - odd little squiggle in the 420 and a mutant symbol on the zip - as if that urge to flourish or add some flair kicks in at the end.

They used script on the The and the rest is manuscript printing. I'm guessing it was written by a women who learned cursive in the 90s. 

Perhaps there will be more clues on the flip side of the envelope when it arrives. Perhaps I will rein myself in and get something accomplished today. The weeds are taunting me.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

March to Caroline from Irene - Mochii Donut

 Here we have two bluebirds of happiness. Ironically, the morning Far Side cartoon this morning was the one where a person was just waking up and was finding the Chicken of Depression on his windowsill. Does anyone even mention the bluebird of happiness anymore. Lucky for all of us I am not going to do a search. I do not have an add-on today and I do not want to fill this up with idle chit-chat - so we will keep it short and sweet.

Full disclosure - my *system* for pre-writing these posts is glitchy. 


Real time add-on - I have temporarily relocated to Chicago for the last week of school and then I will fly back to Iowa with the grandkids for our fifth year of *NannaCamp.* I was somewhat concerned when I flew in and landed at O'Hare and had forgotten to bring a snack for the Uber portion of the trip. All of the food options are now self checkout with screens - and you have to know how to interface with machines and while they look like machines/computers/touchscreens - they are actually aliens from other planets and they are here to weed out the old people - because no matter what buttons we push - things don't work. It started with the gas pumps and now they are everywhere - aliens that look like machines with buttons and nothing works. Each one works at confusing the transaction so that the old person will just go home and stay there. So, I quieted my stomach with a big drink of water and forged ahead.

Day two. Granddaughter and Nanna decide to stay home instead of going to grandson's baseball game. Then we decided to go to the new shop just around the corner, Mochii Donut. They have beverages with something called boba - I think. You guessed it - DIY ordering. Oh, no, says Nanna. Alex (age 10) assures me that it is easy - and we'll be fine. She wants a smoothie without milk. Well - that's not computing. Nanna finally looks up on the big board - instead of following Alex as she randomly punches all the options on the alien/ordering device. Nanna spots something called a non-alcoholic mojito. That looks like a smoothie without milk. 

Good news - it is exactly what Alex has been looking for - bad news - it is literally around the corner from her house and now her parents will have to manage requests for trips to Mochi Donut. Good news - Alex and Nanna figured out how to pay at the DIY alien-posing-as-an-ordering-and-paying-device. The alien saw a young person and knew how to lure her into *the future.* 

Monday, June 3, 2024

March to Caroline from Christina - Spontaneous vs planning


Christina went with the blue+flowers theme - which looks nice on the kraft paper envelope. I like the cancels in the two corners, although that double-cancel over the owl is unfortunate. She did a very good job of adhering everything to the envelope. Nothing was coming undone.

I spotted this on John Steven's IG - calligraphile is his name on IG:

I kind of surprised myself. I was testing this new brush (not released yet), and wrote this Roman alphabet w/o any lines or layout. I know, sounds like a brag, but I think there is a freedom to this and with calligraphy, risk is necessary; to feel letters. In my whole career, I have experimented with spontaneous v. planning. Neither is better, but it keeps you awake to do things differently occasionally.

Jean's words: If you would like to see his page of awesomeness - LINK to John Stevens IG

I need to etch his words into the part of my brain that helps me with my envelope ideas:
Neither is better, but it keeps you awake to do things differently occasionally.
  The flip side of Christina's envelope is as much fun as the front.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Feb to Ming and Phillip - rogue post

My fool proof system is not fool proof. So we will call the random envelopes that didn't stay in their folders - rogues. I would not have noticed or found these - except Sharon asked me what the style of lettering was on the black envelope with white scroll tip. She thought it looked a little bit like foundational - which I can see.

It is no particular style - it is what I do when I feel like making consistent-ish letters with a nib but without looking at any exemplars. I use a few shapes from foundational and French Roundhand. I also have some branching that looks rather italic. The proportion of cap to lower case is a bit like italic. 

Anyone who has studied seriously or teaches would probably cringe at how mixed up the details are. Although, part of me likes the idea that it is simply how I write when I am writing and not calligraphing.

I used up my Roy Lichtenstein stamps because it was time to move on.  And Sharon's envelope is not here because I forgot to block her address and now I can't figure out where these images are located. <sigh>


Saturday, June 1, 2024

March to Caroline from Janet - June Exchange Sign-up

This is a fun envelope from Janet to Caroline - in keeping with the flowers+blue suggestion. Janet has been following my other suggestion to make the address clear and easy for the scanners to read. Of course, when I cover up the street address it ends up looking rather odd. But, underneath is a very clear address.

Today through June 4th is the window to sign-up. 
If you participated in the May exchange - just shoot me an email that says: SIGN ME UP - 
and you will get your list on the 5th. 
Let me know if it is your [Birthday] month or if you are willing to be on [2 Lists].

This streamlined sign-up is only for people who signed up in May - as I will not dig back through old lists to find your information.

If you are an occasional exchanger - or a new exchanger - or took May off - then send the following info in this format:

Jane Doe
123 Oak Street
Ames, IA 50010
[Birthday]  [2 Lists]

If you are new to the exchange - CLICK HERE for exchange details

Friday, May 31, 2024

March to Caroline from Mia - pondering flowers

When I put Caroline on the list for March, I mentioned that she is very fond of blue and gardening - so this one is perfect for her.

Today, on the Instagram reels - Leslie posted a photo of 4 envelopes showing what a fun mail day it had been at her house on Monday. My Monday was also a fun mail day - and I received 6 envelopes. The odd thing was that there was only one in the USPS Informed Delivery email. I wonder why. I wonder if I will ever get around to making an appointment with the USPS to answer all my questions.

This envelope is from Mia in Canada. I do not have the envelopes here so we won't be guessing what medium she used. The bursts of color look like they were inspired by flowers - probably the most tried and true inspiration - which makes me wonder: Is it possible to make ugly flowers? 

A Google image search for *ugly flowers* provides quite a few photos of flowers that I would call exotic, but not ugly. If you add *line art* to your search for *ugly flowers* - there are some really nasty drawings - but the only thing that makes them nasty is that there is a human face positioned in the center of the flower. Imagine a creepy clown face in the center of a daisy. I do not recommend you waste any time looking at ugly flowers. I think we can agree that flowers are universally not-ugly.


Thursday, May 30, 2024

March from Cathy to Caroline - Sierpinski triangle


It looks like Bister ink to me. That stamp looks like one from a long time ago. Did the USPS reissue some designs? Something to research. I am writing this on April 22 - adding an envelope to a post that was started a couple weeks ago. I see that I was pondering the *order of things.* I'll delete any chit chat about the *order of things* because we have freed ourselves of that burden. We are committed to the joy of dis-order IN MODERATION.


I'm writing this on April 7 - while I decide how to proceed with the order of things.

Something led me to the Sierpinski triangle. It's a fractal.  Some of the readers are into math - others are not. By the time I read this I might be in Chicago, collecting the grandkids for our annual trip to Iowa. They are old enough to fly alone but the 8 year old refused to do it. I had a bright idea that they could just buy tickets for *unaccompanied minors* and I would be on the same flight and we would pretend that we didn't know each other. It was a fun idea - but not $150 worth of fun. That's the charge for the airlines to take care of kids who are flying alone. It's a reasonable charge - but $150 will buy us a lot more fun once we get to Iowa.

LINK to YouTube video

and this LINK to the triangle on WIKI is a marvelous rabbit hole of fun words - like Arrowhead Construction of Sierpinski. Gasket.

I need to invent a shape named after me. How about the Jean Marie Vortex. Sorry - that's the caffeine writing.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

March from Amy to Caroline - Tolstoy movie

In March, rather than have the exchange envelopes sent to me, I had them sent directly to Caroline who is 96 or 97. I first met her in 1979 and have also become friends with her daughter, Tracy, who is my age. Last year I put Tracy on the list and she was thrilled with the envelopes that arrived. I put her name on the list at my address and then gave her the whole stack of mail at once. For Caroline, I thought it would be more fun for the mail to arrive at her home. It was a big hit. 

Amy had a clever tie-in with the shamrock on the stamp and the nod to St. Patrick's Day. She had a nod to Easter on the inside - which I did not get photographed. Tracy brought the mail over to my house to photograph and I learned that I'm not good at photographing mail while I am talking about it with someone.


Something different with the add ons. I found a movie on Kanopy that looks interesting. I have not watched it and will use it for an add on. If I do watch it, I'll add on again and report whether or not it was to my liking. UPDATE: I started watching and it was painfully slow - I do not recommend it unless you are a fan of just looking at scenery and watching a woman look at scenery while hearing a voice-over of her reading the letters she has written to her husband.

This is the blurb that caught my eye: A Couple: Un Couple is a film about a long term relationship between Leo Tolstoy and is his wife, Sophia. They were married for 36 years, had 13 children, nine of whom survived. Each kept a diary. Although they lived together, in the same house, they wrote letters frequently to each other.

People who wrote letters to each other whilst living together. Reminds me of my house - but, the *letters* are my brief notes asking for signatures to confirm that the person has read the note. These started when the kids were teenagers. People were forever insisting that they had not been informed of things like date and time of family gatherings for holidays. I had to post a notice and put lines for people to sign that they had received the information about what the schedule was. I hesitate to report what the current *geriatric* version of this has become. At what age does one become geriatric? I guess that will be a topic for future discussion.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

APR to Sharen, JeanR and Sharon (Jordan and Wes)

This one was not looking good at all - until I noticed the fun lettering along the edges of the sheet of stamps. I'm not sure I like the stamp overlapping a bit. Here is where I am very torn about planning vs poor planning. Sometimes the problems created by poor planning end up looking better than if it was all planned out. 

I tried to come up with some other ways to put grid designs over the Wes Wilson lettering and these are OK. I probably have 10 more stamps - so maybe I'll have another burst of ideas. I discovered that Wes Wilson lettering required planning - although, if I did 100 names - I bet I'd get to the point where I didn't need much planning. 

This looks like it might be one of his originals - just Google * Wes Wilson lettering * if you would like to see more.


Monday, May 27, 2024

APR to Irene -Bike video


The envelopes are getting redundant - but I can't stop myself from doing everybody's name in this style. On this one, I did not go around each stroke and smooth it because I used a broad edge marker and I rather liked the texture. I did sharpen up the corners. Maybe if I figure out a good stamp to go with this style there will be more variation.

I posted this one before I added that darker shade of whatever that color is. It's OK. 


Sorry. I've lapsed into something silly. It's only 3 minutes. 

REAL TIME COMMENT: There's something wrong with this link. I'll see if I can fix it

Silly video - Nope, I can't fix it - it just begins at the end - so, if you'd like, you can grab the slider thing and move it back to the beginning - sometimes technology tells us to just close our computers and go do something else.....

Sunday, May 26, 2024

APR to Patty (Jordan) - Just like Christmas

Somehow, I forgot to put Patty on the list - so I had to scramble at the last minute. This was so bad, I used it to write a *deep regret* memo to put inside the one below which is actually worse. I should have put DORN under the PATTY and then ACKER in the third line - 5-4-5 would have been so much better.

I requested Patty's maiden name (which she sent) so we'll see if I can do some better envelopes using her maiden name which I am happy to report is not Schwartzentruber.  I actually knew someone with that last name. 

At least there was that one time that I did a beautiful Patty - it was the one with the flowers in the Y of the Y. 


I have a fairly large folder of fan mail - and some saved emails. This came in an email and it needs to be shared with my readers:

I love when it’s the 1st of the month because it means it’s time to sign up for the envelope exchange!  And it’s like Christmas morning on the 5th because then I get my list for the month!! 😊

Yes -- that's the kind of email that just makes my day. I went through a terrible slump after that 6 week ordeal with the Martian Death Cough. I didn't do extensive whining on the blog since I was aware of several other ordeals that were going on at the time - all things that were far worse than my little cough.

So, here we are with our ups and downs - and our mail. Feel free to shoot me an email with any whining or venting. I won't post it on the blog. Glowing fan mail, however, will be shared once in a while.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

APR to Kate and Leslie - Wes Wilson

Another Wes Wilson inspired envelopes. It's similar to Maggie's with the penciled in notes - but it is not written cryptically. When I do more of these I will feature other ways to fill in the letters. I enjoyed writing about what was wrong with each of the letters. I must have two lavender markers because this one matches better. Maybe it is because it is on a different paper.

Kate received two envelopes because the first one was such a monstrosity that I wanted to throw it away. (That vocabulary list from yesterday is coming in handy) I'll post the sad one even though it is not resolved. 

That's weird - I took the photo before I put the polka dot celebration stamp on it....  Some BIG DOTS might have helped - but the rectangle of her name is awkward in that position.

My first envelope to Leslie did not please me. I inserted a consolation postcard which I did not photograph. I mailed it on a Thursday. The memory of the envelope continued to haunt me. By Monday morning, I had this one ready to go. Inside is a collection of all the rough drafts I went through. Not that this one is 100% pleasing - but - it might be headed in a good direction.

Here is the one that haunted me. I have digitally altered it by putting a copy of the stamp inside the N. That was the part that was haunting me. I have also thought of a way to embolden the lines that would have helped a lot.