Thursday, May 17, 2018


I saw something on Instagram(?) (at least I think that was where I saw it) asking if you were happy with your "joy to complain ratio."  An interesting question, and one that can make someone stop and think.  We all complain, but how many of us have stopped to consider the ratio?  

   Some "joy" to balance some of my recent complaints:

These tea towels from Amelia make use of some delightful artwork
by Holy Angels artists Molly and Sharon W.!
 I love looking at them!
They lift my spirits. :)

What was left of the baked delights from Erin and crew
after Fee and I made our first few helpings!

Some wonderful incoming mail!
from Teresa and Ricky
 Ricky made the heart from a horseshoe and the postcard is from 
one of Carolyn Dorman's drawings of wildflowers.
Carolyn Dorman dedicated her life to the preservation of native ecosystems.
The Carolyn Dorman Nature Preserve continues her mission.
Here is an interesting post about "Carrie" Dorman, her work, and legacy on Teresa's blog!
Thank you, Ricky and Teresa!  I love the heart and the card!

The promise of daylilies!

This fan letter from a child to James Preller and his always thoughtful reply.  It is so generous of authors to reply to fan mail, and James Preller's replies make me happy.

Cartoons on stamps appeal to my sense of whimsy.  I have several 32 c stamps depicting characters from old comic strips that I love.  Recently, however, this article gives some examples of Royal Mail takes on cartoons.  

This stamp hits very close to home!
(Oh, yes, I plan to write a letter to an anonymous person
which will include a "to do" list of household chores.)

A fun book about a ghost that reminds me of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.  A light ghost story about an old house, the ghost who wants to know how he died, and the young woman who plans to turn the Marlow House into a B & B. about your "joy to complaint" ratio?  

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

This and That

I'm a sucker for unique animal stories like this one: A dog in Columbia noticed students paying for cookies with green paper.  Not to be outdone, this clever canine began bringing green leaves to pay for his treats!  
Source:  White Wolf Pack

May Mail



I sewed a little stamped and embroidered piece 
I made a while back to the envelope.

I think I'm all caught up on my correspondence!

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

So long, April...

 You have been a month filled with letters, poetry, and gardening.  National Letter Writing Month and National Poetry Month have concluded, but letters and poetry will continue being written by folks who love to write and receive letters and by poets who, thank heavens, spill their words onto paper.  

Gardening will continue as well--for a while at least around here.  It was 85 degrees (29.444 C) yesterday (plus humidity which makes it feel even hotter), and I was a hot sweaty mess early.  May will be reaching even higher temperatures and higher humidity, and enthusiasm for any real outdoor labor will begin to wane.

Last of incoming April mail from Jacque!
I love all the little envelopes.  They are hard
to see in this pic, but are such fun to open.  :)

Last of April's Outgoing Mail

I wanted to try a tessellation and looked at Pinterest for some tutorials.  One took me to a Youtube video, which I tried: 

I made my square, cut into two sides, moved and pasted the pieces, and came up with a template I used on the envelope below.

The first creature I "saw" looked a little like a friendly dinosaur.

back of envelope
I turned the template I made in another direction 
and"saw" another creature hiding in the greenery.  
Turned it again and saw a creature with horns.
Same template, three versions.

I'm going to play with these some more.  There are plenty of Pinterest and Youtube tutorials about different kinds of tesselations.

to TES 

My desk at various stages last month

watercolor sheet with drawing and stamping

after cutting out all the little drawings,
I draw on some of the scraps

Then I send the cut out pieces through my little Xyron sticker maker--
finally having replaced the cartridge after nearly two years .
Saves my fingers from some of the sticky glue stick messes.

 Read and reviewed or scheduled on A Garden Carried in the Pocket

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Mail, National Poetry Month, and Circe by Madeline Miller

from Connie


The Billy Collins quote make me want to graffiti his poems on sidewalks.  :)

Postcards to grands  
to Mila
Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere) arranging
a window, into which people look...
--e e cummings

 to Max

 to Bryce Eleanor
On the back, a quote from Carl Sandburg:
"Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits."

I love this idea:  1000 Poems by Mail

Reading:  Just finished Circe by Madeline Miller.  It was wonderful!  Beautiful prose and a fascinating look at myths and gods from the point of view of Circe, daughter of Helios, who drove his chariot of the sun across the sky each day.  Circe (unloved child, nymph, sorceress, witch) exiled to her island tells her version of the gods and heroes and monsters.  Circe has a depth that the other, more powerful gods lack.  She has the ability of introspection; she makes mistakes and regrets them.  She resents the power of both the Titans and the Olympians and stands against them as best she can.

Her first rebellion was a kindness to Prometheus when--as a timid child--she brought him nectar in secret.  Prometheus who aided mortals is aided by the young Circe; a theme develops. 

At one point, Circe speaks of her beautiful loom, a gift from Daedalus, innovator and craftsman:  
"I have it still.  It sits near my hearth and has even found its way into the songs.  Perhaps that is no surprise, Poets like such symmetries:  Witch Circe skilled at spinning spells and threads alike, at weaving charms and cloths.  Who am I to spoil an easy hexameter?"

She recalls a song she has heard of her meeting with Odysseus:  "I was not surprised by the portrait of myself:  the proud witch undone before the hero's sword, kneeling and begging for mercy.  Humbling women seems to be a chief pastime of poets.  As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep."

Later, in a conversation with Penelope, Penelope tells Circe:  "I am from Sparta.  We know about old soldiers there.  The trembling hands, the startling from sleep.  The man who spills his wine every time the trumpets blow."  I like that passage because I never thought of the Greek warriors suffering from PTSD, but of course they did.  

I have loved myths since I was a child and there are so many versions even from the ancients.  There are also some wonderful retellings available:  The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood and Weight by Jeanette Winterson are also great examples of modern mythic retellings; these are much shorter, condensed, but powerful.    Antigo Nick is a campy, amusing modern translation of Sophocles' Antigone by Anne Carson.

And for National Poetry Month, a poem by Louise Gluck:

Circe's Power

I never turned anyone into a pig.
Some people are pigs; I make them
Look like pigs.

I'm sick of your world
That lets the outside disguise the inside. Your men weren't bad men;
Undisciplined life
Did that to them. As pigs,

Under the care of
Me and my ladies, they
Sweetened right up.

Then I reversed the spell, showing you my goodness
As well as my power. I saw

We could be happy here,
As men and women are
When their needs are simple. In the same breath,

I foresaw your departure,
Your men with my help braving
The crying and pounding sea. You think

A few tears upset me? My friend,
Every sorceress is
A pragmatist at heart; nobody sees essence who can't
Face limitation. If I wanted only to hold you

I could hold you prisoner.

Do you have a favorite myth?

Friday, April 20, 2018

Mail, Tomatoes, Poems :)

This has been a great mail week!  


The mysterious postcard from North Carolina at the top above was fun because I have no idea who sent it.  Is the "L" for the first or last name? There is really no hint at all and no return address--so I can't mail a reply!  But it is addressed to Jenny Claire which is what my my father used to call me and what my grands still call me.   I checked with the Lamkins, but not them.  Curiouser and curiouser.  

On the back of Teresa's envelope, she included a pic of ratatouille and a poem she wrote with the lovely line "okra chortle a ruffled message in their pods" -- that makes me smile!

Here is the postcard TES enclosed with an excerpt from a poem.

 the other side...
this poem makes my mouth water

An anthology of poetry in which there is a tomato in every poem!  If ever a vegetable deserved an anthology all its own, it is the tomato.

I didn't move the pot with the cherry tomatoes on to the shelter of the patio when we had a really cold morning.  I meant to.  I knew I should.  I forgot.  So damage to the leaves and the flowers that hadn't set, these little guys were OK.

If there is anything I love more than juicy, ripe tomatoes, it is fried green tomatoes.  Cherry tomatoes won't do for that, so when they ripen they go into salads.

I used to collect poems on various subjects for comparison, just to show students different ways to approach a topic not normally thought poetry worthy.  It started with poems by Plath and Hughes, but then I was amazed at how many famous poets had written poems about pigs.  Here are a few of the ones I collected.  

Sylvia Plath -- The Sow
Ted Hughes -- View of a Pig
Claude McKay -- If We Must Die
Denise Levertov -- Her Secret
Galway Kinnel -- St. Francis and the Sow

P.S.  "L" if you will email me your address, I will send you a postcard back!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

More Snail Mail Ideas for National Letter Writing Month

*  This is one of my favorites:  Penny Berens keeps in touch with her young grandchildren by drawing scenes and characters they might enjoy; when her grandchildren get the letters, they can color them in--a fine collaboration!  Check the link to see!

*Writing letters can be a solitary activity, but it doesn't have to be:
Kimberly Ah likes to party.  :)  Halloween Mail Art PartyBirthday Mail Art Party
Pamela Gerard at Cappuccino and Art attends regular mail art gatherings.
         Letter Writing/Correspondence Clubs  

All of the above look like fun!  
Letters, good company, shared supplies,
ideas, and techniques.  :)

 *Print a photograph and add to an envelope or postcard.   

In 2016, when my little brother (Ha!) was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame,
I printed an old pic of the two of us for the envelope.  I was actually
bigger than Steve at that point, although he is two years younger.  It
didn't take him long to outgrow me.  An old basketball stamp was perfect.

*Use pages from old books.  Tutorial

*Paste stickers and/or use rubber stamps on a plain envelope.  Connie does such a wonderful job with her envelopes and her beautiful brush pen addresses.

Another one I liked was #13--
"Finish a Conversation."
quote on back

post card to Teresa

Oh, dear!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Gardens, Mail, Mushrooms

Another day trip to Blue Moon Gardens.  Texas highways are in better shape than ours and the wildflowers are gorgeous, lots of Indian Paintbrush and Queen Ann's Lace and Black-eyed Susans and others cover the median and the sides of the highway.  No bluebonnets that we saw, but I'd love to take one of the driving trips to see the wildflowers in Rusk County: 

Peak season is coming up!

We got another Japanese Maple, milkweed plants, a firecracker plant, daylilies, prostrate rosmary, some sedum, more basil, orange mint, lantana.  Some were chosen for their attraction to butterflies and hummingbirds--others, just because I like them.

Our new Orangeola Laceleaf Maple!
Where will it end up.
Right now it is in the middle of our path, 
and I'm having to side-step around it.

 I love Fountain Grass, but "Fireworks" is a new favorite.
I planted this one in a big pot, but now, I'm rethinking that and may move it today.

Having to reconfigure the garden now that the birches (with their wonderful shade) are gone.  Lots more thinking needed and more backaches in the future.

Outgoing Mail

I found the perfect stamp in my stash to go with the excerpt from the poem I used on this envelope.  Mila likes Sylvia Plath, and so do I, but the best known of Plath's poems are pretty dark.  April Aubade has such lovely imagery--I wish Plath had had more of these lighter moments.

 I used this from the stamp sheet on the back

I wanted to use the dinosaur stamps and found a poem about dinosaurs that I thought Max might appreciate--especially the second verse on the back.  When I read the last two lines, I laughed out loud!

And an excerpt from a cat poem for Bryce Eleanor and Prim Paws.

"Arabelle is a calico kitten . . .
helping Grandmother tend to her knittin'.
Over and over, 'round and around,
in skeins of bright yarn Arabelle's wound."


Rain predicted for the weekend, so time to get back to the garden!