Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Books and Snail Mail

I've been reading like an addict--which I suppose I am.  Catching up with reviews on my book blog is more difficult than reading the books themselves.  Below are some of my favorites; already reviewed on Goodreads, but the posts for A Garden Carried in the Pocket are scheduled closer to publication.  

Shallow End and The Weight of Night are police procedurals from two authors I enjoy.  The other two are literary fiction--a coming of age story in Grief Cottage (don't think it is a depressing novel--it isn't) and When the English Fall, a dystopian novel about a solar storm that causes an EMP (an unusual novel that imagines how the prayerful and peaceful Amish would react to the ensuing violence).

 OK--just finished this one, and it is excellent.
Haven't reviewed or scheduled it,
but highly recommended--
 a beautiful and uncomfortable book.

   Trying to keep up with snail mail.

 The orange one, middle left, is from Bryce Eleanor.
It didn't have a stamp and the postman left
a note in my box about postage due.
I left attached a stamp to the note,
put it back in the mailbox, and
the next day got my letter from B.E.--
along with a pic of Prim Paws from her little Kodak camera.  :)


Postcards to Max and Mila and several letters.
The lion on Connie's is B.E.'s art--
I cut out one of her drawings and pasted it on the envelope.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


I love this "recipe card" by Julie Kirk of Notes on Paper.  "Medication" comes in many ways!

As always, I love Claudia...

Like Claudia, my cardio may consist largely of books and snail mail, but I have
renewed my yoga practice.  The longest I've gone so far is 10 consecutive days before skipping a day.  I started with a 30 min. practice on January 5, but quickly moved back into an hour practice.  For several years my regular home practice was an hour and fifteen minutes, and a longer, slow practice seems to work better for me.

I'm rolling out my yoga mat each morning and setting the timer for an hour which feels about right, although sometimes I go over the hour.  When I finish, I feel relaxed, but energized.  Tai Chi was the same way, providing that unusual combination of physical and mental relaxation with  a sense of energy.

My goal is to manage 30 consecutive days of practice, but in the 19 days since I started, I've only skipped 4 days and that is encouraging.  Maybe I'll make 30 days at some point, but if can keep up a regular practice, I will be happy.

 I just read through 11 Amazing Thank You Notes from Famous People--if you have time check these out; they are funny and heartwarming. :)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

This and That

I've followed Ronni Bennett's Time Goes By for years.  My favorite weekly post is Interesting Things and the following video is a great example of how the narrowness of some laws that can become self-defeating.  
"This is a video about what happened when the U.S. Department of Labor stepped in to enforce their employment regulations against piece workers in a retirement home.
It was produced last year by students in The Academy of Integrated Humanities and New Media (AIM), a two-year film program for juniors and seniors at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, California, which happens to be my alma mater,"  writes Ronni.

  Amazing the millions of women who marched--peacefully--yesterday!

Friday, January 20, 2017


I finished The Solace of Open Spaces, Gretel Erlichs's essays about Wyoming.  There are some wonderfully descriptive passages, but I wasn't completely satisfied.  She mentions getting married (doesn't give her husband's name) and getting hit by lightening in a few sentences in the same essay.  No follow up on either.  

There is not much about Erlich's personal life that I could find anywhere, although there is a lot written about her books.  Her recovery from being struck by lightening involved a lot of therapy, and in the process, it seems her marriage disintegrated.  But a couple of sentences on each is all you get in Solace--although she did write A Match to the Heart about her painstaking recovery.   Erlich's love for Wyoming is obvious, as is her adventurous spirit (her many other books cover a wide-range of locales and environmental issues), but her personal essays reveal  little about her inner life.

The following  quote appeared  on Michele's Heart and Hands blog today, and it resonates with me:
“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”---L. R. Knost
I particularly like the line:  "Not with time, as they say, but with intention."   

Saturday, January 14, 2017

This and That

The first week in January, we had two days with lows of 18 and 19 degrees and highs in the 30's.  Within the next two days, the temperatures climbed to highs in the upper 70's.  It doesn't look as if we will have a real winter this year.  Spring intermixed with a couple of cold days now and then.  I'm almost as confused as the plants.

A few more letters and postcards went out this week.  I've also been making more envelopes.  Making postcards and envelopes is about all the creativity that has gone on around here, but it is a pastime that keeps me curious and involved.   
click to enlarge
The three postcards to the grands were all done in November, but the envelopes are new.  Naomi sent out a letter template that I've been using this week.  The two letters made from paper bags are using Naomi's template (and one of them is to Naomi!).  I plan to make some more using the template and maybe some more collage postcards.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Saturday Update

Snail Mail:  I've mailed six letters this week as I try to catch up on neglected correspondence.  Have more to go, but at least a start on responses makes me feel better.

Reading:  I read a lot more than usual in 2016.  Keeping up with reviews over at my book blog has been a challenge.  Not that I review all of the books I read, but I make every effort to review books from publishers so I will keep getting free books!  Most are reviewed over at A Garden Carried in the Pocket, but some of my favorites are scheduled for later in the year.  When I receive AR copies from publishers, I schedule books closer to publication dates and there are 17 reviews still scheduled to post in 2017.  

Studio Shirt:  I continue making new in-roads on the shirt.  Especially, when I need peaceful meditation, I add more embroidery and more blocks.  It doesn't matter that these additions aren't planned or careful or neat, they are more like ad libs--just stitching to keep my hands busy.  It is a work in progress since 2014, adding a little at a time.  New additions since September:

At 8:00 this morning, the temperature was 19 degrees.  Almost unheard of in Louisiana and last week was like Spring!  Weather app shows us back in the 70's next week.  

Hope all of you in colder states are surviving the arctic freeze and snow! 

Sunday, January 01, 2017

I've been away for a while because I've had another bout with depression.  A long one.  Holiday stress and anxiety didn't help, and I barely got things done that needed to be done.  Mostly.

I'm recovering now.  Why?  Because on Christmas Eve, my husband came down with a man cold. Sudden onset--3:00 AM on Christmas morning.  Fever, sore throat, achy.  We were down in the country with the kids and grandkids and missed the Santa explosion because  I had to bring him home and begin checking Urgent Care, Quick Care, Velocity Care--none of which were open.

Emergency room.  (He was so sure he was going to die, I was afraid it was the flu.)  Nope, a viral and bacterial infection.  Meds.  Whining.  Sympathy...you know.  Repeat.  Repeat. Repeat.  Oh, how the makers of tissue profit during cold and flu season.  I think he will recover; we're on day 8, and he has been back to work.  With occasional relapses in the afternoon, naturally.  

Our home pharmacy will now have to extend to me.  Because he gave me his cold.  But at least it is not a man cold.  I know I will live.  No need to make immediate additions to the will.  And after five weeks of one of my more serious depressive episodes, the man cold finally forced me out of it.  So all is good.

Well, except that I am behind in everything and overwhelmed with "make-up" work.  And apologies that need to be given many failures during those weeks.  

So...bless the man cold.  And thank heavens, he doesn't read my blog!

  To any other wives dealing with this alarming illness:

I know I owe letters.  Please forgive.  As soon as I recover from my much milder version of the cold,  I promise to reply!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Here We Go Again...

OK, I am a time-waster.  A very proficient time-waster.  Sometimes I regret the time wasted, sometimes I don't.  And sometimes, I feel like maybe you would enjoy some of the places I waste my time.  :)

I watched the latest Sainsbury Christmas ad, which I liked just because it has James Corden doing the voice-over.  But then I got side-tracked with other Sainsbury  adverts, like Waste Less Save More:

And then,  well, just a few more.

What else should I do?  Clean house?

I actually did clean the house!  Everything except mop the floors, and I decided to do that today.  Well, that was the idea anyway.  Doesn't seem as urgent this morning.

Frustrating: When Edgar gets in my lap when I'm trying to work(?) on the computer.  He can not keep his paws to himself!  I like feeling his warmth in my lap and listening to his purring, but his constant reaching for my hand is annoying and causes typos that need correction.  I make enough mistakes without his help.

I finished reading The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison, a dystopian novel that tackled a lot of problems about power and corruption, before we took another little trip this weekend to Jefferson, TX.  We stayed at The Excelsior Hotel which has provided accommodations since 1858;   famous visitors included Ulysses S. Grant and Oscar Wilde.  We did not see the ghost, but were charmed by the hotel anyway.

Sometimes there are so many things on the "to do" list that I'm overwhelmed and unable to get started.  


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Process and Progress

I always enjoy seeing someone else's process--
creativity is such an individual thing...
but Jody Alexander's process is truly unique.

I do love her work:
altered books, boxed books, etc.


I have not reviewed these yet, but Louise Penny's A Great Reckoning was even better than I hoped.  Of course, I'm always a little surprised at how good her books are, her ability to juxtapose humor and kindness with the worst humanity has to offer.  

And Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson was also a pleasure--maybe it is not realistic to have a real-life character who so resembles the Little Prince, but the book gives a positive and sympathetic look at a boy who does not fit the norm, who is labeled an oddball even by those who love him, and who catches at your heart even as you know how difficult it would be to live with him.

In progress:  The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon.  I only read from 2-10 pages at a time, but it is both delightful and informative.  Although I've been familiar with some of Sei Shonagon for at least 20 years, only after a letter from Penne did I decide to order and read the entire book.  Her lists are fun and her comments about the Japanese court during the late 10th c make me realize how much we have in common despite the differences in time and culture.


Read an ebook by Arnold Grummer on paper making and have been experimenting some more.  

Used a couple of blue post it notes for color.
The dark spots are milkweed seeds.
Some left over pansy petals were still in the mix.

 I waited until the pulp was well blended,
then added a few more scraps from envelopes to this one.

The blue in the sheet below is from the inner lining of an envelope
(like the bits in the above piece), but I blended the pulp longer and
did not add any additional scraps.
Set a bottle on the screen before adding pulp to get the circle
and added a small Japanese maple leaf
and a yarrow leaf before pulling this sheet.

Pansy petals and hibiscus petals blended in the pulp.

All of them (and a few others that were still not dry) are under books and weights to flatten them.  These sheets are all thinner than the first ones I made, although I did alter the thickness on these, too, as I experimented.  The one with milkweed seeds is thicker because I didn't want the seeds too rough on the surface.

Now what?  This is one of those activities that is more fun in the process than in the product. I still have several other ideas to try out in "the making" -- then I will have to decide just what to do with them.  

Onward to another mess!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Crafty Week in Review

I kept eyeing my handmade papers and wondering about how I could use them.   I like recycling materials, especially junk mail envelopes, but my handmade paper is not very flexible, and while it wouldn't be expected to be as flexible as regular paper, I wonder if  there a way to decrease the stiffness some.  Definitely need a good book on the subject; there are so many things I'm curious about.

One of my original thoughts was to use the handmade papers as backgrounds for some of the stitched leaves from the last couple of weeks.  Auditioning the leaves on the papers was satisfying, but then I wondered about other options.

 I had a couple of thank you notes to write, so I cut some pages down and folded them into little note cards.  Ended up choosing 3 leaves and adhering them to the folded papers, then wrote short notes inside expressing my gratitude.

Yep, I tried this, but boy, is it easy to tear a leaf!

I cut up some under paper from painting and sewed two little envelopes, adding a few details and marks along the way.  Popped the "thank yous" into the finished envelopes and sent them on their way.  There is one note card left, and I may make some more.

 I also made some tiny gift tags.
These might be good for Christmas gifts
if I add some Christmas-y embellishment.

Collaged postcard 
with a leaf 
and some birch bark
and sent it to Jacque.

I wish...

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Election Posters and Suffragettes

Well, we did get the vote,
but it is interesting to see some of the posters
opposing the idea from the time period.

For more examples see Vintage Everyday

What courage it must have taken 
to risk prison and
to stand against the status quo, 
the opinions of spouses and family, 
the insults, and the violence.


Mrs. Pankhurst

Monday, November 07, 2016

A New Week

New Project

 Quite a long time ago, I tried making paper with mixed results.  As I was about to trash some junk mail the other day, I thought about trying again.  I tore up a bunch of old envelopes and papers, let them soak, put 'em in the blender, and made paper pulp.

It was another mixed result but certainly suitable for collage--just tearing bits of pieces will add texture to collage work.

My papers were mostly plain, with some random bits of text, but before I quit, I remembered that there were plenty of finished pansy blooms and some begonia blooms just out the door.  So the last few pieces have some color to them.  I made a huge mess, the papers vary in thickness, and there is a lot to learn if I decide to try again.  

Not that it is difficult--it is really very easy, but I need to practice getting the right amount of pulp, not too thick and not too thin,  and a mold and deckle would produce even sheets and more even distribution of pulp.

Last Week's Mail


 I used one of my tea bag houses and a tabby cat for Miss Prim Paws Chandler

Junk mail recycled to Connie

 collage postcard to Cheryl


from Annie
from Jacque
and another one of Jacque's beautiful cards!

I love Julie Person's 

Just Curious

...how often to you look back at your own pins on Pinterest?  

Pinning something I like comes easily, but unless I'm thinking about something specific, I rarely look back at my own pins.  I've thought about taking at least one pin a week from my own pins and trying a new technique.  Has not happened yet, there are some interesting Christmas ideas I might have to try.  

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

A Little Bit of Everything



more leaves and some birch bark

Incoming Mail

from Bryce Eleanor

from Penne
 beautiful stamp

from Connie
beautiful setting for a stamp

postcard from Cheryl  :)

from Melanie

Thanks to all of you for making my mailbox (and me) very happy!