Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Mail

(I forget who gets credit for this. I tore it from a magazine too long ago to remember the source.)

Who in the world does not celebrate Spring? Zombies, that's who! What? People the world over celebrate Spring in different ways, but celebrate it we do. I'm especially loving this one since it's the best we've had in years. Seriously. It's a real Spring. The sun shines strong and steady, yet gently. The breezes are cool and teasing. Everywhere there are green things growing and blooming and fruiting. Color surrounds us, and the air smells so sweet. What's not to love? We've thrown off the shackles of winter!


I'm a Spring baby. I was born when the star sign Taurus held sway  in the blessed sky. Yes, I can be stubborn. I'm strong, fierce, crazy for the color red, and I love earth. I believe in "April showers bring May flowers." I shut down once the the sun goes on vacation no matter how hard I try to roll with winter. I like spring onions, spring rolls but not Irish Spring. I like every flower I've ever met, spring fever, and you can tell I like spring mail. 


Come each Spring, I get to dust off my growing cast of cartoon characters, and draw until I'm drawn out. I get to make spring chicken jokes and spring chicken mail art.


I've outgrown enjoying housework in favor of spring cleaning. I'll wipe away the dust and dried petals, and put the little bottles back in their place. More flowers grow daily.


I get to use the Spring bounty I'd forgotten buying back when Archivers was still alive and well in Katy. It's too late for the Valentines, but I don't mind. I wish you could see these close up but even the originals are fuzzy. I think my favorite is the second image. The dyed eggs. And of course there's the third from the top on the right. If you're like me about Spring you'll like this blog's "pretty." Isn't it all just lovely? http://persianmama.com/latifeh-nowruz-celebration-2015/. Everything says Spring. See? The world celebrates the season of renewal.  Naturally, I thought of Eid as well but there are buts. I have loads more to learn, but I can't do it justice in a hurry. The ram, the lamb, the bull. Somewhere in the world people sacrifice the ram, the lamb and the bull in Spring. And the goat! Don't forget the goat. So, that's all she wrote about Eid for now.

Except this. I often draw before I fall asleep. I put away my joy and it's forgotten--memories of penciled lines let behind in the land of Nod. It's easy to do if you draw in two journals, three sketch pads, on loose pages, on an iPad, in Rhoda pads . . . But one good thing about being me is . . . no one throws my "stuff" away. No one else erases what I do in Paper by 53. Nobody but me.


See? This is what I mean. Another it-was-supposed-to-be-a-postcard-start moment in time. If we are judged by our intentions, mine were good. My intended intentions will keep until Easter. though Until then, I wish you great spring mail, and a happy season of renewal, again. Everywhere. Can you feel it???





Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Fat Chick Rant

Okay, here's the . . . Wait. Remember the cryptic text I mentioned earlier? You know. The Fat Chick declared a desire to "slap the snot out of Mark Twain? Boy was she on a rant. Turns out he offended chickens everywhere when he put his foot in his mouth. He did it when he said, "Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid."

Ooh-wee and uh-oh! TFC threatened to egg his house with rotten eggs. She promised to ____ (rhymes with stoop) on his door mat. She sent a note asking if he'd ever been henpecked. It went on and on, this Fat Chick rant, but at least I know she's okay. Free ranging has changed her. My extra scissors and a glue stick are missing. This just came in an e-mail.


You must admit she has a point.


I Wanted to Knock the Snot Out of Mark Twain

4:18 PM:  So far that's all I know. The text ended abruptly. Hopefully, the full story will emerge before evening. I cannot help but worry just a bit over the cryptic message. Why would The Fat Chick want to harm a long-dead Mark Twain? Hmm. There's a mystery afoot.

No matter. No, wait. Have you heard of Mike the headless chicken? NO? Read about it here: http://www.miketheheadlesschicken.org. Be warned. It is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. If you want the fleshed out story you must read several stories instead of the one. Time Magazine's tale has an interesting take, and it fills in missing details. RIP, Mike. Gone but not forgotten.



I like mail. I love Alex Mail. He's taken to writing notes and leaving them on the door mat ever since he wrote a thank-you note to Anna in England last year. The idea of his letter crossing an ocean still amazes him. Ah, the faith of a child. He does not consider his missives being fair game when it comes to the wind and it's love of kiting all things paper. And it's March after all. I'd like a kite today, but sharing my friend's letter is just as exciting as flying a kite. 

As you can see, Alex and his family went to Mexico for spring break. His father stayed behind, but I was put on extra guard detail while he was at work. Señor Juan has had his landscaping trailer and tools hitched to someone else's wagon and stolen twice. That's the backstory in an acorn shell. Now, try to picture moi as a lookout. 

It didn't work, did it? I know. No matter. I promised to keep an eye out for strangers, and an eye on Señor Juan. I saw said señor once in the two weeks his family was away. My friend, Alex thanked me for protecting his home the day after they returned. He was that grateful. Plus he'd missed me, and wanted to say hey. Post-spring break hugs are tighter/longer by far. And he thanked me for my prayers. I'd have prayed harder had I known they were traveling by bus. 

So. When's the last time you got door mat mail?

Friday, March 27, 2015

A - Z Mis-er-y, Confusion, Color Infusions


Giving away reams of 12 x 12 and 18 x 24 sheets of paper is harder than I imagined, without even factoring in the costs for shipping. So I've decided to use up as much as I can before my expiration date. You can imagine how much fun I had making this envelope. Now I have to wrestle with the thought of giving it away or keeping. "Keeping for what?" you ask. Inspiration. Inspiration is what. Or, I should keep it for my big book. My memoir? Whatever.


I need to know when to hold 'em. I like this better, but drawing and coloring with markers on vellum is a sure-fire stressor. It's downright scary. Makes for muddy colors too.


Know when not to fold 'em.
Know when to walk away . . .
This began as a nod to the Spring bonnets of my church-going childhood. I forgot Easter was the main event, so I get another chance to have another go. It's clever-clever! Just you wait and see. Singing: In your new Spring bonnet, with all the flowers on it . . .


Know when to run 
to your writing desk
and write a letter. 
Just one.

It sure felt odd. A single letter on the bannister this morning. And it did not get mailed. I missed the mail person. There's always tomorrow.

I believe I'm caught up with my backlog for the first time in at least three years. Oh, my goodness gracious! It is liberating. Please, if I owe you a letter, it's okay to let me know. I am so cool. Ask if I've drawn my first draw one-a-day challenge and I will have to say, "Will you help me?" because I need to buy a clue.  On my A. Oops! It's my personal A - Z drawing challenge. I also bought that 642 TINY THINGS TO DRAW book. The first prompt is: cupcake sprinkles! An entire page is for sprinkles. 

I Googled "cupcake sprinkles." Surely the prompt suggests sprinkles in their container? Sprinkles atop an actual cupcake? Sprinkles alone could be cake sprinkles, cookie sprinkles, or even candy sprinkles. Right? Oh! Or sprinkles atop frozen yogurt, banana splits, ice cream . . . Shucks. Why make this simple challenge more challenging by posing poser prompts? Which? Remember what a sprinkle is? If I draw three am I supposed to color them so they won't be confused with marks made on the page when I dropped my pencil and it rolled and thumped down the page? 

My first A -Z choice is an ampersand. Easy enough, right? Too easy? I know! Armadillo! The letter A? That's it! The letter A. Okay Susan, it's on. 


This is a bumpy posting day. Never in a million years would I have imagined being stumped over a title for a post, yet here I am. I blame this crisis on fluid retention, coupled with perhaps too much sun, and/or knowing my green carpet with yellow and white flowers will disappear beneath the blades of my neighbor's mower tomorrow. I asked Alex's father to mow for me, so I saved these new beauties to press between waxed paper. I've never seen leggy wild violets(?), or the cute tiny lilac babies before. Great winters bring new "weeds." I miss going macro so much. I wish I could leave the backyard to itself for once too. 

On a happier note, I'm smitten. With? I am smitten with this! See why for yourself, and join me in Smittenville. Here:

http://www.lettersofnote.com/2013/11/letters-live.html. Does knowing the possibility exists that some day your letters might be read on stage before a live audience? If you knew they'd be read this way or published in a book in the future, would it affect what you write in the present? I recently read a woman's thoughts on the idea of someone hacking her e-mail accounts, and discovering the gossip she engages in. Heck. That was in a recent NYT op-ed piece, if memory still serves me well. Wait. Memory loss makes a great defense. Note to self: Save, just in case. 

But the author's panic prompted me to wonder if I gossip in e-mails. I immediately nixed the fret, because if something is good enough to be called gossip, it is good enough to warrant a phone call. Now, if my phone calls are being recorded, then the Big Brother snoopers must be desperate, since I have no worries about my e-mail content. However. A period was absolutely necessary after that however, seeing as how I have written things in letters in the past that I wish could be eaten, digested, and belched up by Smaug. I'm talking incinerated. 

Wait a second. Who decides what defines a letter of note? There are great letters of non-note that are better and far more interesting than some of the jaw-achingly boring letters written by some people of notability. Don't ask me for names since mine is not among them. 








Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hello, Dear, Thank-you, Sincerely


I'm always learning something new. Some of it comes from what I call teaching myself. I learn by doing. I learn from YouTube, the Internet, and you. I learn from magazines I enjoy. Several of my favorites usually devote time and space to letter writing. A coincidence? Um, no; they know we are here to say, and we're growing in numbers every single day. This is a page from a secret favorite, "Garden & Gun." It's in their March/April issue. 

I am for anyone who promotes writing by hand anything that's capable of bearing postage and traveling. So this is my nod to G&G for "We Say Thank You Properly." It's No. 41 on their list of "50 Perfect Southern Things." No. 1 shows off a picture perfect magnolia, a piece titled, "The Scent of the Magnolia, A love letter to the fragrant South," by Frances Mayes. No, it's not an actual love letter. It's not even a letter! There's no hello, dear, and nary a single sincerely. Shame on you, Frances. 

"Etiquette expert Elizabeth Edwards, of Arzberger's Stationers in Charlotte, shares the ABCs of a well-written thank-you note." She tells all in steps A - E, actually. Here's we go:

A: For notes to family and friends, strike through any formal part of the name at the top of the letter to keep things casual. 

Are you laughing or scoffing? Both? Okay, there's more:

B: Always write out the date in the far right corner, opposite the salutation.

C: Begin the body of the note directly under the "r" in Dear.

D and E? I'm not saying.



I'm almost certain I shared this in time for your Christmas and Hanukkah last year. It never hurts to repeat a good thing though, so again, here we go. "Write Your Cards Well, Timely advice to improve your handwriting from lettering artist Cherrell Avery." I like what she says:

1) Find a good handwriting pen, a roller ball or fountain pen that grips the paper.

2) Sit straight. Bad posture equals bad writing. Make sure your legs aren't scrunched up, your back is straight and hold your pen with a loose, relaxed grip.

3) Keep your fingers flexible, not rigid. Try doodling to practice mobilising your digits.

4) Spend five minutes writing, being mindful of what you're doing, of how your writing looks, the speed and the shapes (not what you're writing).

5) Inspect your writing. Is the scale and proportion of your letters consistent? Are you forming your letters correctly? Many people miss the backbone in the letters n, m and r. Disjoining letters is also common. When writing at speed, n, m and h derteriorate quickly. Get to know what your habits are and practise slowing down to correct them.

Cherrell (http://www.cherrellavery.co.uk/) teaches Transform your Handwriting courses at London's Idler Academy, www.idler.co.uk.  (December 2014 Issue)

I'm still working on keeping my loops open. For starters. There's always room for improvement. Wait until you see what else I'm working on! 


"How to Write a Thank-you Note, Top manners = repeat invitations. We all know the value of saying "thank-you" at this time of year, (even if Nanny Vi did send bath salts again). . . .

a) BEGIN WITH A GREETING.

b) EXPRESS THANKS.

c) ADD SPECIFIC DETAILS.

d) LOOK AHEAD. Mention the next time you might see them, or just let them know you're thinking of them.

e) RESTATE YOUR THANKS.

f) SIGN OFF."

(from January 2015 The Simple Things)

Do you think rules are important when it comes to penning a message? Did you know penning a letter with red is considered an insult? Do you think I believe any of this matters to any of you? I do. Side notes are often interesting, if not downright laughable.

And, then there's one of my pet projects. Not much beats checking in on my friends that flew south for the winter, or waiting for the free rangers to return. Alex is back from his family trip to Mexico. The first thing he told me was how much he missed me. I confessed that I missed him too. He asked if I cried. I said I did. Erin questioned my reply. I told her I cried in my heart. I did. 

I've been busy writing, and drawing, and coloring and musing. 


It really is true that . . .


FLOW knows.


I'm busy making postcards with my own brand of experimental writing. Colors can make you happier than you think, or imagine. 


I'm so color-happy, I almost don't mind that I messed up my bee. It'll come right in the end, you'll see.


Smudges and smears! Happily, no tears. It's what's inside that matters. The wrappings will only end up in tatters. Humidity makes messes with pen and ink. It poltergeists my tools, I'm beginning to  think. 

A lot of hellos, dear, thank-you(s) and sincerely(s) went out today. Some of it is headed your way.

Sincerely sincere,


Write on.






Monday, March 23, 2015

A Great Mail Day


Inspiration. Or, "Why hand lettering matters." 


My name looks lovely, doesn't it? 


Inside was just as lovely. Oh, happy day indeed!


Such goodies in a grab bag! Thank you, Randall. We share a taste in stationery. I stack books around my home too. 


She couldn't wait for the finish. She wouldn't wait to get her fluff filled in. Tweet had to twitter the name of the give away winner NOW. So . . . The winner is . . .


Angela! Congratulations! I do like your card, "The ABCs of Living Green." Hmm. You've given me an idea, and your pillow will wing its way to you soon. Thanks for playing. My Monday was a good mail day. I hope yours was too.


A field of tulips! Isn't mail grand? Sometimes it just makes my day. Thanks for all the colors and light, Susan.












Sunday, March 22, 2015

Only the One, the One & Only

"Only the one," is the answer to the question, "How many angels will fit on the head of a pin?" Both Q&A came out of the blue--a clear signal that it was time to pick up a pad, a pencil, and draw. So I did. Postcards are a great way to say hello after a long winter separation. And, so it began.


It began with a safety pin found in a little tin of pen nibs. "Safety" changed to "fountain," and there you have it. Poorly executed, so no postcards. Yet.


Jumping jackrabbits! I bought new grays! One cannot cast shadows without a little. Copic grays were a mere $6.99 per! They're $7.99 - $8.99 at other stores. So lovely! They inspire me to do better.


I'm learning chicken anatomy. There's no room for roosters yet.

(show piece)

I think I post outgoing mail more often than incoming as a way of reassuring pen friends. It is my way of saying might be behind but I'm on the job. Incoming takes longer to share because I have to savor it first. It's like not introducing the guy you're dating to your friends until you've gotten to enjoy being alone with him first. In this case, the show piece is newly written--waiting for tomorrow's postal run. (God willing and the creeks don't rise. The rain keeps on falling.) Rain drops keep falling on my head. But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turning red. Rain is what we need. But, hello Lord, we don't need another flood!


I get a kick out of sharing Shel Silverstein poems this way. The drawings are icing on cup cakes! 


And, of course there's this. The one. It's home. It's on the bed behind me. Within reaching distance. It came home yesterday. After days in and days out of rain-rain-rain, and more rain, I escaped. I escaped into the rain. I was not alone. Barnes & Noble and Hobby Lobby were buzzing with dry, damp, full-on-wet people. Dang! I forgot the self-portrait I planned after I saw my reflection in store windows. I matched the gray sky. Dressed in gray from my tee shirt, yoga pants, and rain hoodie. A nudge to shop for spring clothes, yes?

Yes. But disappointment was writ all over my face the moment I nonchalantly made my way around the first rack of magazines, turned and slowly eyeballed the space where FLOW usually hangs out to wait for me, and discovered it was not there. A poker face hid my pain. I pretended to examine "Cloth, Paper, Scissors." Then, (drum roll!) one of my favorite booksellers rounded the first racks and startled me. All I heard was "FLOW" and my eyes followed his finger to the first magazine on the . . . It was there! Dejected and down-hearted I'd walked right past! 

I wanted to hug him and squeeze him and buy him a latte! I forgot to tell him how much I liked his beautiful plaid shirt! Jordan wears clothes I wish . . . Never mind. He and I more than like FLOW. Read on for a tease and several unnecessary reasons why.


I am all over the place with this issue, but I found my Bucket Must Do List night before last. It was tucked inside my copy of The Swan Gondola. A mere bookmark. I added item #3: Draw a dragon. Honest. I have wanted to draw a dragon since I was a girl. They're not a part of America's history, so I know nothing of dragon anatomy. I've studied them for years though. Here's hoping I finally draw one before I add #4. 

But. Did you know there's a proper way to do a bucket list? Well, there is. Find out the ins and outs of it on page 98. (Tease: What is it you always wanted to do as a child? Do you still want to do that?) Then watch the movie! A happier Bucket List is a bucket with your list written on strips of paper. Keep it on your desk. I have a cute little pail that holds pens and papers, but it doesn't have to be a real bucket.  No, I like the little card from Levenger's that keeps my list. How did "kick the bucket" become associated with death? Did Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicking-over-the milk bucket-that-knocked-over-the -lantern-that-caused-the-great-fire have anything to do with it?


Were you ever into Betsy McCall doll clothes? Oh, I could barely stand waiting for her new wardrobe every month! I was crazy for Betsy! I used my best scissors cutting skills, pasted Betsey onto a cardboard back, dressed and undressed her all day--sometimes until tabs tore off. 

I just don't get the cat paper doll though. Who wants to dress a cat? You can dress up a dog, but cats have too much dignity. So, you know there's fashion in this issue. (grin) 


I like this paperweight! It complements my crystal ball perfectly, don't you think? I secretly like dandelions. 


Hmm. Bucket lists. Now this.


FLOW always, always, always gives away goodness. This issue is no exception. Randall? Jackie? All the hand-letterers in the audience? This issue is for you.







There's even an exercise to copy. Copying is a great learning tool. Your eyes-hands send signals to your brain. Your brain holds the new information in reserve until you can do it on your own. Then ta-da! It's learning on the cheap. FLOW uncorks your creativity genie in your bottle, and the rest is a pun.


I'd like to buy the world a FLOW
And keep it company.
It's the real thing deal.

Go. Buy. Let us have fun!

Write on!