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.

Friday, May 24, 2024

APR to Janet


I came very close to being 100% happy with Janet's - until I couldn't find the stamp that I had intended to use. I also made a deeply regrettable IA on the address - and what you see is not how I patched it. That is just a digital cover-up. I actually like it - and maybe I'll do something similar. 

The solution to this whole thing would have been to just go ahead and draw one more flower that would be mostly covered by the stamp. It's fine that I tried some alternatives.

When I left the comment about the doozie of a list we found for alternatives to the word mutant - did anyone wonder if I was going to look for alternatives to *doozie*? 

Here you go---  it's a nice list. 

I'd use it on a greeting card to someone who was worthy of such praise. Although I might leave sockdolager off the list.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

APR (and May) to Mary - Mutant lettering

I hardly ever delete a post - but the red envelope to Mary was so bad, I had to do something. I did a better envelope for her in May which is this one.

It is still not very good. I should have done two ice cream cones for the M - where they were *splat* up-side-down - then a party hat for the A - and I could have done a much better R with 2 or 3 feathers - or maybe Band-Aids -- and why is there a Band-Aid on a party stamp?

Below is the April envelope to Mary which is an atrocity. I'm only including it because it was a series of problems that did not resolve on this envelope but it did offer some ideas that I ended up liking.

In theory, this could have been a happy hybrid of Wes Wilson and Jordan - instead it is a nasty mutant. I wish I had used a lighter pink marker for those little envelopes. I love the idea of the little envelopes with that stamp so much that 20 people will be getting something like this. I'll experiment with different fonts.

This new system where I write the blog posts before I send the envelopes might be the best thing that has happened in 2024. Of course - the superstitious lizard that is living in my head will not allow me to celebrate lest a celebration of something good sets off the inevitable balance-maker-of-bad-stuff.

For those of you who thought I could have come up with something better than *mutant* to describe the lettering, you are correct. I went on a mission to find a better word - and I found so many I just had to share the list. That's a doozie of a list.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

APR to Maggie - Jordan-style

I had fun trying the Jordan-style with a color - not because it looks good - but because I enjoyed writing a cryptic message to Maggie. I drew some light pencil lines and ended up leaving them in. As I wrote the message, I skipped each square using the lavender marker. Then I went back and used the open square and wrote the words in gray.

I hope Maggie lets me know if she could read it. Or perhaps I will ask her to let me know - in a note on the back of the envelope. This is the very first time that I have ever photographed and written the blog entries before I mailed the envelopes. Usually they are gone -- and I have to whine about what I wish I had written or done.

Is this a whole new level of organization? 

My only wish is that I had a marker that was closer to the stamp - bluer. But - we are still honoring our guru, Mediocrates - the god of good-enuf.

I promise something other than Jordan-style tomorrow - but, I do hope that some of you give it a try. Especially if you are not a calligrapher - since you do not need any calligraphic skills whatsoever. Does anyone want an exemplar? Would that help?


Tuesday, May 21, 2024

APR to Lynne - Jordan-style

It would have been fun to send this one with just this stamp. Instead I had to find an acceptable co-orphan and the teddy bear fit nicely into the Y. I do not have a photo of how this one looked before I squared it off. The LY is nicely wonky and then the NNE does not have enough *wonk* - but - I do like the white space and I found my chart where I was keeping track of which style each person had received - so new-improved-organized-Jean will be sending one of these to e.v.e.r.y..o.n.e (maybe). I've learned that bold statements about what I am going to do - is a pretty good way to make sure those things don't happen.

And speaking of the things I say I will do that I forget to do. HEADS UP!
If I have said I will do something - please don't sit around waiting for it to happen
and please do not hesitate to send me a reminder.

I never was very good at remembering to do stuff I said I would do - and it has only gotten worse.


Monday, May 20, 2024

APR to Christy - Jordan style

When I did the envelopes for the Hudson USPS clerks - there was one to Jordan that had this style. I have no idea where it came from. I think the point of it is to just chunk out a name and then put corners on all the strokes. Then fill it in with doo-dads from the stamps. Jordan's had doo-dads from the Day of the Dead stamps. 

I'm so close to using up all the orphans - and the hockey player taking shots at the priceless Pueblo art is a bit of silliness. 

I did have the foresight to take a photo of the chunky first step to what we are calling the Jordan-style. Is Jordan honored to be a *named* style?

You can see how I penciled to get the width of the letters reasonably balanced. There is no trick to squaring off all the strokes. It does take some time - and it is inevitable that some strokes will be wider than others - so at the end - go back and add random thick strokes here and there.

That is very good design lesson. If you have something a little off - exaggerate the *off-ness* and repeat it at least 3 times and then it is a cool design element.


Sunday, May 19, 2024

APR to Rachael and Juliana - Wes-style [May to Lynne]

This is a May envelope - inserted at 5 am this morning - because I just realized that I already posted Rachael's envelope - although it was not quite finished - here is the finished one - with all the deep regrets.

That blind spot in my planning is alive and well. It's 2-pronged. I either forget to plan for a stamp or I plan for a stamp and then forget the plan or misplace the stamp or stick it on the wrong envelope. 

The Deep Regrets:
1 - forgot which stamp I intended.
2 - decided that a solid black back ground was better than another flower - so I layered some white selvedge off the sheet of stamps
3 - discovering that the stamp paper is thin enough that the background shows through

I tried another name on a smaller envelope. It's clear that the number of letters and the proportion of the name is a big part of the success or deep regrets.

After I tried a few of these with colors instead of black - I returned to black - 
The Deep Regrets:
1 - those yellow dots
2 - not having a stamp in mind
3 - using a neon envelope

No regrets:
Trying something that was fun at the time - even though the results were 50-50

If you go back to the top - you'll see that I realized that I could fit in more letters if I tapered the wavy band. It helps - although -it would still take many versions to get it right. Lynne's N's are too narrow and the O at the end is too wide. In spite of all the deep regrets, I did [do] keep coming back to Wes Wilson.


Saturday, May 18, 2024

APR to Kristine

One more in this series. I named this style *Rachael's outline. I'll add something else to today's post because everyone might be really tired of this style and we can't let our readers get bored and restless. Not that I'm all that caught up in the amount of views I get. I hardly ever check. But I do check - from time to time - and it's been pretty consistent - but the last time I looked - I had hit crazy numbers - something went *viral*

Here is the chart:

There was that peak in 2017 - but other than that - things were pretty consistent at 25,000 views per month - until recently  -- when there are spikes up to 80-90,000 - that's just crazy. 

I'm still glad I never got into monetizing - with monetizing comes trolls - and we don't need that.

Here's a fun Mickey Mouse stamp from France. I like how it's just close ups. Mickey has been on a couple USPS stamps - but never a full page of Mickey.

When the French postal system wants to use Mickey on a stamp - I wonder who they call. I think there is a Disney theme park in France -- so Disney must have a relationship with France.


Friday, May 17, 2024

APR to Grace, Amy and Cathy - The Last Shower

Grace, Amy and Cathy received this style which was inspired by a set of 20 envelopes I did for a shower. I might end up doing more of them for the rest of the April exchange.

As mentioned on numerous occasions, I am retired. I did that one volunteer job a couple weeks ago that was only first names and vowed that it was enough of a learning experience that it would be easy to turn down anyone who found me and wanted to hire me to address envelopes. You know where this is going....

Yup, I had a phone call from someone who started in with a sincere amount of gushing - about the holiday envelope that she gets every year - and how she asked that person for my name - and how much she loves her yearly envelope - and she was wondering if I would be willing to address 20 invitations for a shower.

It was nice that I found a style that I had already worked out - and then it turned out to be fun to use it on exchange envelopes.


Thursday, May 16, 2024

APR to Alex and Ben - Kestrel


We've already seen a couple of this *Rachael style* that had just the name. This sheet of stamps came with all those little words and phrases. Rachael's envelope has the row of stars which might be washi tape - so, I thought this might be cute. It's OK. A different font might be better. It was fun to use them on something to my granddaughter.

This is what the grandson received. I put it inside Alex's envelope and asked her to hand deliver it. It has a cancelled stamp.  The silver gel pen part looked pretty good in real life and not so good in the photo. There is an oops on his name. For as long as I can remember I have had trouble remembering that there is no E on the end of Benjamin. It's such a weird thing - because I tend to be very phonetical with my spelling.

Here is the original inspiration envelope... I always forget how slender her strokes are. Also more rounded on the ends..... when I first posted this envelope I relayed Rachael's comment that she was not 100% happy with how this one came out - but, I think it's worth noting that it has provided a lot of inspiration for me - so - if we look at it that way -- it's 100% successful.


Here is a calligrapher with a blog that stays on topic - however, she does not post daily. I did a search on my blog for her name and nothing popped up. I'm surprised I've never linked to her before. 

LINK to Kestrel's blog

LINK to her IG

I wonder if I'll remember to give this a try. My favorite part is the little doo-dad-curl where the A and K loops are almost touching.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

APR to Jessica - Strands puzzle


This was the envelope that was supposed to have my favorite cloud stamp plus 2 special delivery stamps but they slipped onto a different envelope - so the only thing I could find was this lavender stamp. It's OK. I actually like this lettering and somewhere I had the whole alphabet - so maybe it will pop up again some day.


I can't remember if I have already posted this.

The NYTimes has a new puzzle called Strands. There is a grid - and you have to find words.

All the words refer to theme. Each time you find 3 random words that have nothing to do with the theme, you earn a *hint* which is when they give you one the theme words. And - there is one *big* word - that ties everything together - and goes from edge to edge. I love this game/puzzle. You have to look carefully at the linked letters to *read* the words. I hope my pitiful brain is benefiting from the workout it gets with all these puzzles - mini-crossword, Wordle, Connections, Letter-boxed, and now Strands. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

APR to Rachael - 1-yr calendar

This is the beginning of the Wes Wilson binge. Please note - Rachael sent this last year - so when the one from JeanR showed up - it must have triggered something in my memory that nudged me into thinking I should give this style a try.

When my April envelopes were not going very well, I decided to pull out my folder of inspiration and see what I could find. I had done a so-so version of Rachael's psychedelic flowers - and decided to try again. I have 10 letters in my name - Rachael has 13 - right there, I should have been more careful with the spacing. I should have pulled out an exemplar. 

There is still room for significant improvement in the flowers - but I need to ask myself if that is a good use of my time. So far - it was a good use of my time because it nudged me out of my slump.

I actually like it a lot in black and white - so I think I'll just send it this way. Or maybe this is my next
Fix-It-or-Wreck-It envelope. I guarantee if I try to color in those petals I will wreck it.


This is such a fun thing - but I can't decide how to use it . One entire year on a sheet of paper. I just wanted to store the address for it - in case I think of a way to use it.

LINK to one year calendar

Monday, May 13, 2024

APR to Devonte, Lili and Lorie - Angry Grammarian


Three more that went to clerks at my main post office. I was in a script mood. My favorite is Lorie's. 


Nobody has ever complained to me about my use of the Oxford comma. I ran across this item and have decided to drop the Oxford comma...or maybe *try to remember* to drop it. It might be hard to change. Perhaps nobody cares.

If anyone is a grammar and punctuation aficionado.... this looks like fun. A new musical. 

LINK to The Angry Grammarian

I'm doing a fairly good job of curtailing my surfing. Except when I read articles like the one at that link and it goes to the BillyPenn website. I deduced that it was a reference to William Penn - and thought to myself - gee - I don't know anything about him. It's always fun to do a quick Wiki-read about those guys who sailed across the pond (a few times) and ended up on the box of oatmeal. And by *fun* I do not mean to imply that it is actually fun. Eye-opening might be a better word.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

APR to Susan - Balloon fighters


Fix It -or- Wreck It?  Welcome to a new series where I spend a ridiculous amount of time on a name and I know that it's not going anywhere - but I seldom give up on the idea that I might be able to fix it. Below is what I had started - and I had started with the fatal mistake of not having a stamp in mind. After I put in all that work - I went looking for stamps and found the *aging together* stamps. I remembered that Susan and I are both April-girls - and I'm ready to get rid of all those stamps - so as much as I did not care for the name or the fact that the stamp is not quite the right color - I went ahead and stuck the stamps on. 

No matter what happens - it is going in the mail - but, you are left wondering - did she fix it or wreck it?

Somehow the final version ended up in the May 27th blog post.


I have an 8 year old grandson. I think we need to try to build this out of cardboard. 

LINK to website..... where you can see a video of them in action.

Apologies for such silliness - I'm using the blog as a filing system for ideas to entertain the grandkids. Each year, they are older - and I need to stockpile some ideas.....

Saturday, May 11, 2024

APR to Lovie - Typewriter art

If you are wondering why I have jumped to April envelopes before posting the March envelopes that arrived in the exchange - it is because the March envelopes were sent to a friend at her home - and it was the middle of April before I had a chance to photograph them. Those envelopes will start on May 29th. 

Two more to the nice lady at our main post office who helped me out with the effort to get my son's mail forwarded from Tahoe to Iowa. The top one is silver gel pen. I haven't done ribbon writing in a while - I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I've done better at that other idea - with layering of styles and colors. This one is ho-hum because I didn't literally layer anything. The names need to overlap.


Here's a quick look at typewriter art. 

LINK to typewriter art website

LINK to James Cook's IG

LINK to his *big* piece

Friday, May 10, 2024

APR to Chistanna- Umbrellas


This is one of Rachael's designs. I've done my own variations several times. In March, I sent 3 envelopes to the other clerks at Paula's station - and I spelled Christanna's name wrong - so I wanted to do a really good replacement. I liked it so much that I did a few more. 

This one is also to someone at Paula's station - and it's not spectacular - so maybe I owe Allison a better one. Allison needs to convince Paula to stay in the exchange so she gets more mail.

I should have added white drop shadows. Grrrrrr.


There is a guy in Turin Italy who makes custom umbrellas. His website is all in Italian - but - you can enjoy how good he is at matching the plaids.

This link takes you to the page on the website with a video - in Italian.

LINK to umbrella video

At the planning stage, Mr. Suino will typically spend an hour with a client, deciding the 50 details that will go into an umbrella. Decisions include which thread color and the style and finish of an umbrella’s “tips” — the canopy’s protective metal ends. Larger concerns determine fabric, size — eight or 10 panels measuring about 18 to 26 inches from the center to the tip of the rib — and the handle. Handle options include butter-soft woods and roots; hand-carved ducks, eagles and toucans; and a one-of-a-kind selection of hollow resin handles filled with whimsical items, including curls of blue and white paper depicting a small white boat on an azure sea.

And he keeps a file on every umbrella so that if you lose yours, he has all the details for making an exact copy.