Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Old School Cool

So I'm practicing old school cool Spencerian Script when I realized I will never master it. I ask, "Why spend hours repeating the same alphabets over and over until my arm shakes and my eyes blur?" Seriously. And, what's the point in torturing myself when writing with a fountain pen is faster and easier? I just need to practice opening the loop spaces on my loopy alphabets. Okay, and correct five or six other common errors, and just  be happy. Right? Finding white ink that actually works should be enough of a perk to keep me writing my way. Surely?

(from FLOW Magazine)

I think I've sold myself on being satisfied with what I can do until I see something like this. Old school cool makes me drool! Then again, an iridium tipped fountain pen trumps feather quills any day. Right? Right. Well, no, not entirely. I tell myself that if they could do it then so can I. I mean write that way. So, once again will I try.

Is this cheating? Well, yeah. 

But not this! Porcupine quills are perfect for quill pens. They hold ink well. Ink just doesn't flow well, for obvious reasons. I haven't experimented with sharpening the nib end just yet, since truth is, I'm afraid I might cut away until there's nothing left to cut. Its heft is solid--more solid than a feather's for sure. Still and all, I have plans to write at least one letter with my porcupine pen before I retire it.

This bottle of Winsor & Newton's 969 Ultramarine ink is at least five years old, and it flows like a dream. I'll test the bottle behind it tomorrow. It's Daler - Rowney jet black calligraphy ink. It's not our great-great ancestor's ink. Can you imagine using lamp soot for ink? But what do I know? It might still be old school cool.

This day, fifteen letters were posted by me. Yes! I woke to sunshine and birdsong. I flung off the covers, and dashed off to enjoy the day! I know. You cannot imagine anyone dashing--especially me, but I tried, so you should try too. And, I got mail! Lots and lots of mail! Well, there was one Dear John letter but still . . . We are waking from winter's slumber, to pen great letters in old school numbers. Well, maybe not. 

Often enough, less is more . . . more or less.

Well, there are exceptions.

See? I used the adopted stamps. Yep, I'm playing catch-up.

May your mail be merry and bright. As long as you write.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Rainy Days & Mondays Never Get Me Down

Well, not any more. Used to be I hated Sunday nights because Mondays inevitably followed. There's a syndrome named after those feelings. And I just read, "Feeling sad helps you feel better. That sounds weird. Yet ultimately that's true. When you look grief in the eyes, you also realize that it's a part of life." I know, I know, you automatically heard, "Good grief, Charlie Brown!" thump inside your head. Right? No? Okay, maybe it's just me 'cause there's a Peanuts comic strip on top of the paper in my waste paper bin. 

Or maybe it's the lingering effects of Mondays from my past. The day hasn't been kind, with glowering clouds the color of black ink drops dispersing in a glass of water. Taupe. That's the color I'm looking for! Taupe, with dark edges. The rain is the . . . Never mind. All rain is good rain. Unless it's acid rain. 

Okay. So I decided to make envelopes today. I had to do something beside sitting in the dark. My immune system is in over-drive, working hard to stomp out the bugs that wreak havoc in my sinuses, throat, and ears. Chills and fever go hand in hand, but I'm not having it! Remember how we're supposed to make lemonade when life sucks like a bunch of bitter lemons? My life life doesn't so much suck as it's tiptoeing around calling itself muck. This dull, drab, taupe envelope reflects the day's sky. See? Art does imitate life. It's still rather pretty if you look at what's going on in the photos. Again, it's just like life. 

Here is a shot of my second attempt. It's a page from a 2011 NYT Magazine ad. I made a mess of it but no way could I throw it away. I'll have to write a cheerful letter to send with. 

And I did write a letter last night. Did you notice all the letters in Downton Abbey last night? And the letter in Fiddler on the Roof? The old yenta opened it! Oops! Sorry. The quote about feeling sad is from "Even If Everything Goes Wrong, It's Still Okay," from FLOW Magazine. This post was supposed to be about pens and ink since I'm seriously practicing with my dip pens, but we all know ink and humidity don't play well together. So here I am once again, writing about what I know.

I know there are dinosaurs in my house. That's for sure! And, yesterday's and last night's mail did not go out today. There's always tomorrow. How's your Monday?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Saturday Evening Post

This is the 28th Day of Black Heritage Month, although we create history every day. I wish emphasis was placed on every minority's culture/history, because everyone's tribe is important. We are more accepting of others when we don't view them as strangers, or see their customs as strange. I never imagined Charles Barkley would teach NBA fans a vital lesson in community, yet he did just that the night he spoke on Earl Lloyd's passing. Until I Googled his name I didn't even know who Earl Lloyd was.  In case you're curious: http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/earl-lloyd-black-player-nba-dies-86-29263739

As a result of of Lloyd's history, I finally respect Wilt Chamberlain. I respect him for his story on the courts. I respect him and his peers for being firsts in a game I enjoy. Earl Lloyd deserves a postage stamp as much as Chamberlain, maybe more. While I have not purchased Chamberlain's, I might do just that the next time I need to restock my postage tin. In the meantime, I hope Lloyd gets his due soon. 

I've reserved the last two stamps from the Black Cinema for posterity. Okay. I'm saving them for any grands I might have some day. If I reckoned correctly, the latest Black Heritage stamp is the 38th of its kind, according to the USPS. No way do I have 38 souvenirs! What am I missing? 

Not Josephine Baker. My then best friend, Fannie Belle starred in a theater production of Baker's life back in the late 70s. I read everything I could get my hands on about the star because I was shamefully ignorant of her roles in history. She lived a fascinating life despite a painful beginning in America. She was destined to blaze in France! Imagine not only acting in the role of a spy but actually being one during the war! She was a flipping flapper, an actress/dancer, wife, and mother to her Rainbow Tribe. Poor Josephine. 

Speaking of tribes. Do you ever turn a journal page into a postcard? I do/did. I needed to do something special to make up for being absent most of Black Heritage Month. In Houston everyone's heritage is celebrated. I didn't know there was a large Czech community in Texas until I read a book about their history: We Were Czech. They were early settlers in the area, but who's counting? We're all one big tribe. Right? So what? Celebrate your heritage, and share it with friends, and the people in your neighborhood. Jeff Bridges is right! 

Ha-ha-ha! A little mail humor.

Two pieces of out-going that didn't make it today. There's always Monday, and more to go with it. The steer missing back legs never fails to bother me, yet I continue to send it.

This is from Patty. It has place of honor on my cork board. I'm still trying to take back the time that I lost watching the most unnecessary video in the world. What does fox say indeed. She warned me though. She told me that it was a waste of time right off the bat, so you know I had to see for myself, right? Please, don't you do it too. Run! Watch your ceiling in the dark instead! 

I wrote more Black Mail last night.

The UK has some of the best stamps! I'm not an Alice in Wonderland fan, but I like almost all Alice illustrations. I'm probably the only person on the planet who doesn't love the story. No matter. I'm nuts for the postage stamps! Thank you-thankyou, Anna. Expect a mini mail backlog any day now. It tends to happen when I don't make a postal run every day. 

Before I forget, R.I.P. Anne Moody, Civil Rights soldier. ' "I was snatched from my stool by two high school students," Ms Moody recounted in her memoir.' She was dragged about 30 feet toward the door by her hair. "The mob  started smearing us with ketchup, mustard,sugar, pies and everything on the counter." Had I sat on that stool and been covered in condiments, well, I think I'd still be in jail. Or I'd own that lunch counter. Or maybe not. Turning a cheek cannot have been easy since just thinking about it makes my heart thud. Maybe Ms Moody earned a BHM stamp that day. Only time will tell. I have a copy of her memoir. It's old and a little worn but it's mine.

I finally got a stamp I've coveted. Guess which one. And check out the damage to the bubble wrap envelope. Too much of my mail comes soiled and damaged. Now you see why I have a tape fetish. No matter. Like Maya Angelou, still I write.

So ends the 28th Day of Black Heritage Month. Or so you think. Shall I tell you about the dream?

Write on. And we shall overcome more than snail mail doubt.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Moving Write Along!

Paul Robeson (1898-1976) by Winold Reiss
Conte crayon and pastel on artist board. 

This postcard is recipient lives in Beaumont, Texas. History matters. I must make amends for not posting a tribute for the 28 days of February, but the brain thaw came late this year. It's never too late though, is it?

Moving right along . . . I used the post office inside our local Ace Hardware today. I could not face another long drive to the main post office. Change is good, and the postal clerk in Ace is so friendly, unhurried, and kind. I get to practice being patient there as well. There's plenty to look at while you wait, so there's no cause to be bored. Ten pieces of mail were left in her in her capable care. I am on such a roll for sure.

This is my new project. I'd keep it under wraps until my ducks were lined in a row but I need help. I bought Color Box's "Frost White" archival pigment for my Black Mail stamp, which has not come yet. As you can see, the black paper drinks the ink like sand drinks water. It goes on nice and white; it is slow to dry and smears even after twenty-thirty minutes, while the Gelly Roll pen's ink is a staunch trooper. I have not tried Dr. Martin's white Bombay India ink with a dip pen yet. So much to do; so little time to do.

This is slightly better. 

I sighed here.

Here's a close-up. The pigment tends to flake after it dries. I cut the little Knee-highs & Bowties snail from the sheet of stickers. It's just the logo but has so much appeal, right? Moving right along . . . I think I'll visit Texas Art Supply to see if they have a better white stamp pad and better black stationery. I so want Black Mail to be a success. It's another bright idea on the drawing table. So, HELP! Any suggestions? Recommendations? Can you help a sister out? 

All of the above are destined for tomorrow's mail drop. There's more I haven't photographed, but here's a weather flash: It snowed in Dallas! My mom called and she was so happy. She also got the magazine I sent. Mail really does matter. I promise to share some of the goodness I've received as soon as I get caught up a little bit more on my back-log. I appreciate your efforts and you not giving up on me even when I couldn't write back. Mail Amnesty is all about forgiveness and understanding.

Write on.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Couldn't See the Message for the ABCs

I feel like Frankenstein's monster might have when he heard his creator holler, "It's alive! It's alive!" I can shout, "I'm alive! I'm alive!" since my hibernation seems to be drawing to a close. I feel very much alive again. There's dogwood, cherry, forsythia and all sorts of blooming going on around me. There's sunlight several says in a row. I'm mini spring cleaning and writing letters, collaging and drawing, and eating bowls of bok choy. I crave greens, companionship and communication. I saw a giant yellow butterfly in our backyard! Spring can't be far off for us. Buying all those stamps should have been a clue. I was clueless to this quote as well. I couldn't see the message for the abcs: I have received no more than one or two letters in my life that were worth the postage. --Henry David Thoreau

Poor Henry David. His friends and acquaintances must have been boring. Then again I wonder how many "worthy" letters he wrote. Oh lord, let me not ask the same question of me! I'm stringing- words-into-sentences-into-paragraphs again, and my mind thaws more with each attempt. There's very little to write about though, so I am grateful for all the things you, my pen friends write that require answers. This is just a phase I struggle with every year. I promise. I'm writing as fast as I can. 

See? All that crystal ink escapes from its bottle and into my Mac and pens. Don't you just love light?

See? I told you! May all your mail chickens and roosters come home to roost. 

Write on.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Letter Writer's Guilty Conscience Communique

I found a wad of cash last week. It happened at the post office when it was my turn at the counter. There was a line behind me that snaked around the customer counter and through the double doors into the lobby. I know everyone saw it laying there; some might have witnessed its escape from the owner's pocket, but no matter, it was probably one more test of my character. I actually sighed as I bent over to retrieve it. I should have called out, "Sir! You dropped a wad!" first, and saved the sigh and the sight of my butt gone heads-up. Perhaps I was just tired or not tuned in; I tend to zone out in lines, but no matter.

After I rescued it, unstooped,  and said, "Sir? You dropped your money" without counting it. Someone in line behind me said, "I'm telling you!" after the mail clerk commented on how important money is in this economy, and just as the lucky gentleman spun, took the money, and rushed through the doors on his embarrassed way; without a thank-you even. (Whew! Such a sentence.) Anyway, I can't even tell you what he looked like. Isn't that something? I either did not look at him, or his features didn't register. I also recall the color red on a piece of paper that lay between the separate folds of cash. That's all. Oh. And the long snaky line. 

This afternoon (which was yesterday. Once in a while I write post-dated posts.) I visited the post office again; I needed to mail a small bundle of letters, postcards and two or three packages. When it was my turn, I noticed bits of bright colors on paper in the same place on the floor again; in front of the same counter space, and I thought, "Okay. Deja vu?" Again I sighed, bent over, retrieved the the paper, and this is what I'd found: 

Stamps. Lovely lilies. They've been cherished, or so it felt at first glance. Their backing edges are smooth and show clear signs of a little wear and tear; a stamp is missing and another is slightly skewed. Their colors are bright reminders of spring. That's still no excuse for what I did. I gave them a quick once-over, showed them to the clerk, and quick as a flash I thought of giving them to her. But I didn't. And then I . . . Oh! I can't say it! But I must. I handed over my first package that needed weighing and it was business as usual. It was that long winding line that made me forget. In the end I held those stamps in my left hand all the while my packages were weighed, stamped and paid for.

In my defense a) I hadn't paid attention to the person who dropped them; b) I didn't want to lose my place in line to search for the owner; c) I didn't think about the value of seven stamps at all. It's not like I need them; I have more than enough hummingbird stamps. So why didn't I make a fuss? I don't know. What would you have done? Should I take them back and turn them in at the desk? Remember the man who lost the money? Well, he acted annoyed instead of grateful for getting his cash back. I tried to convince myself that he was simply embarrassed, but what do I know? I know this much. My conscience is bothering me way too much for the price of seven thirty-four cents postage stamps.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

History, Heritage & a Maya Angelou Stamp

I'm busy downsizing my life, so you know I've come across any number of items that get tossed into the what-was-I-thinking box. Or not. A good example of the "or not" is this full page newspaper ad. I only meant to hold on to it until I found time to Google the inventions listed. Listing the names of the inventors would have made it easier, but no matter. I learned a lot. Learning is my defense for having kept this paper since 2009, and I rest my case. Or not. I turned it into a cover for my current journal in recognition of Black History/Heritage Month. 

I look forward to buying BH stamps every year. This year was no exception. In fact, I was thrilled because there's a new stamp to add to my collection! Those in charge drag out the same old images year in and year out when it comes to proffering a pacifier to the people who celebrate the 28 days of concentrated history set aside to African Americans. There's always Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Dr. Carver . . . You know the ones. Well, by golly and goodness me, there's a new face on the pane! Meet Robert Robinson Taylor. I bought two panes.

(journal back)

I consider this new stamp to be a great beginning and a fitting end on my journal. A mind will forever be a terrible thing to waste; as is good ink, stationery, and mail art. So I got busy. I answered a short stack of letters, (I was too lazy to scan each envelope.) repaid a creative debt to Patty, and sent a couple of overdue gifts. Too bad I forgot to take photos of all my creativity! I meant to, truly I did. I so wanted a souvenir of this year's first BH mail-out. But memory is also a terrible thing to . . . Um. What was I saying?

Until I remember, I'll share bits of my good intentions. Outgoing!

You can't judge a letter by its envelope. Sometimes it's what's inside that counts most. It sure looks strange, does it not?

Don't let the Christmas stamp fool you. Don't let it blow your mind. I work with what I have.

I don't recall the last time I had as much fun being creative as I did with the contents of this little tube. I felt spring coming on since the temp was in the low eighties and just went wild. Don't get me wrong, I love winter but warmth and sunlight in February tends to make me want to gambol mentally. Wash tape in spring colors help to satisfy those urges. Then I saw this, and forgot all about Washi tape. 

Kudos to the USPS! You made my day. History, heritage, and a Maya Angelou stamp, all in the shortest month of every year.