Mama Is a Saint!

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I woke up this morning thinking about my mom and the absolutely beautiful woman she is. Today is her 80th birthday and I am deeply grateful that God continues to gift us with her life.

I hear it over and over and over again.  “Your mom is a saint.”  She’s not simply a good, good person.  She’s a saint.  I’ve learned to accept that perhaps she is, and unlike many women, I wish I were more like my mother.

My mom carried 10 children in her womb, delivered us naturally, and took care of all of us.  As far as I’m concerned, this alone should be enough to qualify her for sainthood.

I lived in the house with us.  And it was a wonderful, noisy house with loads of love and fun, but it also had its fair share of the typical sibling rivalries, squabbles, and kids who always needed something or had a question that just had to be answered.  In my mind, I’m thinking my kid times 10.  No way!

Can you imagine this type of person who has enough love and patience for 10 individual personalities trying to find their way in the world?  Can you imagine worrying and fretting over not one or two or even five but 10 children? Parenting is scary, scary business, and I shutter to think of the challenges ahead for my one kid.  I can’t imagine having to walk with 10 heartbeats floating around in this world.

Mom with my sister Karlette (RIP) and nephew Eric

Mom with my sister Karlette (RIP) and nephew Eric

I distinctly remember my mom taking all of us kids on the bus to Canal Street in New Orleans [Canal Street was the shopping center of New Orleans then].  There might have been only eight or nine of us then, but we’re all pretty close in age. How did she do that?  With nothing less than amazing organizational skills and child management skills.

This explains why our house was impeccable at any time of the day–even with 10 kids.  Unexpected guests might have been met with an apology for her “messy” house, but they probably looked around confused.  My mom’s house was [and is] always clean.  There was no scrambling to clear the clutter when uninvited guests arrived. I don’t even know how she managed that with all of us running all over the house?

And just like our home, we were always clean and dressed and fed well with home-cooked meals every day.  This is no overstatement.  My mom cooked every. single. day. for twelve people. My mom’s version of fast food? Burgers and fries she made herself that were way better than anything we could have purchased at a restaurant.

Mom let us grow and gave us wings.  No matter how many times we came to her with a problem or situation, my mom never directed our actions.  She may have made a comment or two about the situation, but she never told us what to do or tried to manipulate us into doing what she considered the “right” thing.  If we made the wrong decision, she let us fall and learn from our mistakes.  She was still mom, loving us without judgment and allowing us to become.

My mom sacrificed for us in ways that continue to impact our lives. I once asked her what was her dream career. She answered that at one point she wanted to be a nurse. That would have been the perfect career for her. She has a calm and comforting nature that others are drawn to and that would have been so beneficial in nursing. She chose, instead, to nurture the 10 of us into productive members of society.

I know, nowadays, we celebrate mothers who juggle family, careers, community obligations and still find time for themselves, but there was an incredible amount of security for us in knowing that mom was [still is] always there and would always find a way for the things we wanted/needed.

Besides qualifying for sainthood because she put up with us crazy kids, mom is a saint because she put up with my dad.  My dad is a wonderful person, but he and my mom are almost complete opposites.  He is always ready for a party while she prefers the quiet of home.  He spends a lot of time on Facebook baiting his friends and watching CNN and the other news channels while she sits quietly reading.  He loves long debates. She’s not having it.  She says “her piece” and nothing more.  She’s not having the back and forth for too long.  My dad goes on and on and on.

Mom and Dad in the early years.

Mom and Dad in the early years.

I think God chose my mom for us because only a person with her character and spirit could love us all to health and wholeness.  With her quiet spirit, she’s not easily unsettled, so people’s issues (read: craziness) don’t faze her.  She has a heart of gold and always sees the good in people.  She welcomes all and listens without judgment.  She is the embodiment of forgiveness.  She forgave our “wrongdoings” without making us feel rejected or small, and taught us how to forgive.  If we went to her with some “offense” committed against us, she’d basically tell us to shake the dust off our feet and move on.  That bit of her is so ingrained in me that I can’t hold a grudge if I wanted to.

My mom has a fierce, uncompromising faith that is simply inspiring. It is this faith that got her through the most difficult moments of her life and that prays her children through almost unbearable circumstances.

Of course, she’s not perfect–she is human after all–but I’ve not encountered anyone in my life whom I want to emulate more.

Happy Birthday, Mama, with all my love…

 

(Monochrome) Photo Play: Water, Light, and Fairies

I’m baaaaack with another monochrome photos post.  I can hardly believe the last monochrome post, “Animals in Monochrome,” was in January. I didn’t realize how much time had gone by.

I attempted a “Water in Monochrome” swap earlier in the year, but there were no takers, so I was pleased as punch when my penfriend Beckra joined the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot and joined the swap when I “re-created” it in September.  She had been experimenting with shooting water in black and white, so the swap was perfect for her.

Beckra shared two photos which exhibit her photographic interactions with water and light.  Both photos were shot at her happy place, the creek at Woolly Hollow State Park.

“Writing on the Water,” Creek at Woolly Hollow State Park, by Rebecca R. (swap-bot: Beckra)

This first photo was captured “close, close, close-up” while wading and crouching in the creek. Beckra writes that it “seems like the light is writing on the water in a kind of cursive.”  Interestingly, it also looks like a fire dance.

For the second photo, she had been trying to capture the “starlike glints” on the water and was pleased to find this photo did not disappoint.

“Starry Creek,” Creek at Woolly Hollow State Park, by Rebecca R. (swap-bot: Beckra)

Although the next photo was not part of the swap, it is a “water in black and white” photo and it completes a perfect trilogy of abstract water photos.

“May Moontrail” by Rebecca R. (swap-bot: Beckra)

Beckra sent this one at the beginning of summer break, a moon trail on the lake. She followed the bright moon to the water and was able to capture this reflection, a beautiful “luxury of the summer.”

The guys and I found different places to experience nature and we were overjoyed to find some hangouts near or on water.  Being a Westbank NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) girl, I feel a little lost sometimes not having the Mississippi River down the street from me.

I sent four photos, two from summer and two older photos because I am sort of proud of the monochrome renderings.

Wheeler Lake in Black and White

Wheeler Lake in Black and White, iPhone Photo, 2016

This photo is from Wheeler Lake, which is located between Rogersville and Huntsville in Northern Alabama. The lake was formed by a dam along the Tennessee River. Although part of a popular tourist spot, we were among very, very few people in the area we explored.

Here’s another favorite shot from Wheeler Lake park:

Wheeler Lake Park, Huntsville, Alabama, 2016

“Where Fairies Play,” Wheeler Lake Park, Huntsville, Alabama, 2016

Although flawed, this one was fun to work with because I had to remove a HUGE orange garbage can from the shot.  For some reason, it reminds me of a place where fairies play.  I think I read one too many medieval romances last month.

Ditto Landing marina, described as “Huntsville, Alabama’s gateway to the Tennessee River,” is my new favorite spot.  We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the area and are looking forward to returning soon. You can learn the history of Ditto Landing and see gorgeous pics on the website.

The “Closed Bridge” photo featured in Friday’s post was from Ditto Landing. Here’s the original photo.

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Original

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Original

And a favorite edit:

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Huntsville, Alabama, edited in Snapseed

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Huntsville, Alabama, edited in Snapseed

Here’s another one of my favorite photos from Ditto Landing–a nice balance between air, trees, water, and land.  There’s so much more to explore I can’t wait to go back.

“Balance and Order,” Ditto Landing, Huntsville, Alabama, 2016

As mentioned, I also sent two older photos: a sepia photo of from “The Fly” at Audubon Park, featured earlier this year in one of the nature photo challenge blog posts, and a photo of waves crashing against the rocks (was it mountains?) in Maui.  Although I “heart” the original photo, I couldn’t resist the purple.

The Purple Wave, Maui

That’s it for now.  Until next time…I’ll be riding the purple wave…

Nature Photo Challenge: Fun with “The Fly”

The Mighty Mississippi, March 2012, New Orleans

“The Muddy Mississippi,” March 2012, New Orleans

Did you expect an up close and personal photo of an insect? Sorry to disappoint. 😀

I captured today’s nature photo at “The Fly” on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon just before the “official” beginning of spring–almost four years ago.

“The Fly,” formally known as “The Riverview,” is the waterfront part of Audubon Park in New Orleans, located behind the Audubon Zoo.  It’s a great place for small gatherings, hanging out, and casual walks.

I played with the photo a bit in PhotoShop and in various iPhone apps.

Here are some of my monochrome favorites:

Mississippi River

“The Muddy Mississippi in Black and White,” New Orleans, March 2012

Purple

“The Muddy Mississippi in Purple,” New Orleans, March 2012

The Fly Dark Sepia

“The Muddy Mississippi in Sepia,” New Orleans, March 2012

I love water and trees, so this nature scene was a given.

Interested in other photos I’ve shared for the nature photo challenge?  Click on the links below (or use the previous post button a few times):

Tune in tomorrow for Day 6’s post.

Ciao!

There’s Just Something About New Orleans: Vintage New Orleans Postcards

A few days ago, I received the latest vintage New Orleans postcard to add to my “vintage NOLA” collection.  I’ve received at least a dozen over the last couple of years via swap-bot swappers.

The linen postcards which follow measure approximately 3.5 x 5.5 inches. None of the postcards bear dates, so I can only judge the printing date by the postal instructions: “Place one cent stamp here.”  The cost to mail a postcard was one cent from 1898 to 1917, which means most of the postcards were printed during this period.

New Orleans Vintage Postcards Back

New Orleans Vintage Postcards Back

Like this one, each bears the line, “New Orleans–America’s Most Interesting City” on the back. Forgive my bias, but  I couldn’t agree more.

Courtyard, Little Theatre 616 St. Peter

Courtyard, Little Theatre, 616 St. Peter, New Orleans

From the postcard back: “Le Petit Theatre du Vieux-Carre” is considered one of the leading Little Theatres of the country.  It occupies the former home and courtyard of Don Manuel Gayoso de Lemos, the last Spanish Governor of Louisiana.  The courtyard is one of the most beautiful in the city.

Here’s another view of the Little Theatre Courtyard:

Courtyard of Little Theatre, New Orleans, Louisiana

Courtyard of Little Theatre, New Orleans

Here’s one of the iron lacework so popular in the French Quarter:

Lacework in Iron in Old New Orleans

Lacework in Iron in Old New Orleans

From the postcard back: These delicate lacework patterns in wrong and cast iron, characteristic of the Vieux Carre give the quarter of New Orleans its atmosphere of old France and Old Spain.

Jackson Square, showing the Cabildo, the St.Louis Cathedral, and Pontalba Apartments, New Orleans, Louisiana

Jackson Square, showing the Cabildo, the St. Louis Cathedral, and Pontalba Apartments, New Orleans

From the postcard back:  Jackson Square, originally known as Place D’Armes is a monument to Don Andres Almonester y Roxas, whose funds built the St. Louis Cathedral in 1794, and Pontalba Apartments, flanking the Square.  The building to the left of the religious edifice is the Cabildo, best known monument to the age of Spanish domination, and storehouse of historic treasures.  The building on the right of the church is the Presbytere, housing the Natural Science Division of the Louisiana State Museum.  In the center of the square is the Jackson Monument unveiled in 1856. Jackson Square has been well-preserved and is under excellent care.

Pirate's Alley, New Orleans, Louisiana

Pirate’s Alley, New Orleans

From the postcard back: Pirate’s Alley extends for one block from Royal Street to Chartres Street. Through this alleyway pirates were taken to the Cabildo Jail.  It is also known as Old Orleans Alley and separates the Cabildo from Old St. Louis Cathedral.

The Old Absinthe House, Bourbon at Bienville, New Orleans, Louisiana

The Old Absinthe House, Bourbon at Bienville, New Orleans

From the postcard back: The Old Absinthe House is one of the oldest buildings in New Orleans’ internationally famous Vieux Carre and was the headquarters, during the latter part of the 18th and the early part of the 19th centuries, of Jean Lafitte, the pirate-patriot of whose prowess and wrath volumes have been written.  Today, after the span of three centuries, it is still catering to connoisseurs and discriminating drinkers from every part of the world.

Napolean Bonaparte House, New Orleans, Louisiana

Napolean Bonaparte House, New Orleans

From the postcard back: The Napoleon Bonaparte House, situated in the heart of New Orleans’s famous View Carre or French Quarter, is located at the corner of St. Louis and Chartres Streets.  This building was erected with the idea of providing quarters of refuge for Napoleon Bonaparte after the bold plot in which the story says the noted LaFitte band of pirates was involved to kidnap him from exile in St. Helena and bring him to New Orleans.  The plot failed because Napoleon died before it could be executed.

March 2014 Incoming Mail-1-31

Fan Window in Governor Claiborne’s House, Toulouse Street, New Orleans

From the postcard back: In many of the old homes in the Vieux Carre, huge fan windows like this one, the finest n the city, na still be found.  Claiborne, the first American Governor of the territory of Orleans, was nominated on Friday, October 5, 1804.  In 1812 the territory of Orleans became the present state of Louisiana.

St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana

St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans

From the postcard back:  St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans, La.  Accommodating 1000 Guests.  A Dinkler Hotel. Carling Dinkler, Pres.

This postcard depicts the third St. Charles Hotel, built shortly after fire destroyed the second building in 1894.  The first building was also destroyed by fire–in1851.  See here for more information and images of the first two buildings.

Vintage New Orleans-5

Canal Street

From the postcard back: Canal Street, one of the widest, most beautiful, and best lighted streets in the world, is the center of all activities in New Orleans.

Azaeleas in Bloom.  City Park, New Orleans, La.

Azaeleas in Bloom, City Park of New Orleans

From the postcard back: One of the beautiful plantings of azaleas to be found in New Orleans. The city has recently completed a floral trail of over 25 miles in length, making thus one of the most colorful winter garden spots in the United States.

March 2014 Incoming Mail-1-37

Unloading Bananas, New Orleans

From the postcard back:  New Orleans is the world’s greatest banana port.  More than 700 ships arrive each year laded with 25,000 to 50,000 bunches of bananas.  Each individual bunch is carried from the hold of the ship tot he door of the refrigerator on mechanical conveyers.

These last few, though vintage, are a lot more recent than the smaller, brightly colored linen postcards above.

An updated image of Jackson Square:

Jackson Square, New Orleans

Jackson Square, New Orleans

And the Pontalba Apartments:

Pontalba Building, New Orleans

Pontalba Building, New Orleans

From the postcard back: Pontalba Apartments.  Built in 1850, the two red brick structures on either side of Jackson Square are believed to be the first apartment buildings in the United States.

Vintage New Orleans-4

Bourbon and Bienville, New Orleans

From postcard back: Crossroads of the historic French Quarter.  The corner is also the home of the Absinthe House.  Photo by Don Ceppi.

Vintage New Orleans-3

This postcard features postcard images I remember purchasing many, many moons ago when I was working on a project for my Louisiana History class (in junior high school).  Featured on the postcard are: at The Superdome, Jackson Square, Bourbon and Bienveille, Cafe Du Monde, Bourbon and Bienville signs, The Dickson’s Place, Lace Balconies, Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral, Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, St. Charles Street Car, and Aft-Deck Oyster Bar.

Judging by the postcards, the things that made New Orleans dear to the hearts of individuals nearly a century ago are still drawing individuals to the city today.

If these postcards have piqued your interest, take some time to look into the history of these buildings and sites of New Orleans. You will be intrigued.  There’s just something about New Orleans…

I’m not going to lay down in words the lure of this place.  Every great writer in the land, from Faulker to Twain to Rice to Ford, has tried to do it and fallen short.  It is impossible to capture the essence, tolerance, and spirit of south Louisiana in words and to try is to roll down a road of cliches, bouncing over beignets and needs and brass bands and it just is what it is–It is home.   –Chris Rose, One Dead in the Attic

 

 

A “Red, White and/or Blue” World: Not a Political Statement

Sometimes, I get a little too busy to share all the goodies that find their way to my mailbox, so on this exciting Saturday night as I get a jumpstart on laundry, I’m stealing a moment to share the beautiful notecards swap-bot Sharp Shooter “Midteacher” sent to me a few weeks ago.  These were sent for a “Red, White and/or Blue” swap hosted by one of the group founders, Lou.  She hosts a color-themed photo swap monthly.

Midteacher

“White Flowers” by Midteacher

Midteacher

“Red Flower” by Midteacher

Raspberries by Midteacher

“Raspberries” by Midteacher

Daisy by Midteacher

“More White Flowers” by Midteacher

Isn’t this a beautiful bundle of cheer to find in a mailbox?  Check out the detail of the raspberries! Midteacher edited the two photos on top in an app.   I love the linen fabric treatment.

I played around in an app with two of the photos I sent to my own partner for the swap.

Blue Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden at New Orleans City Park

Blue Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden at New Orleans City Park

Red Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden in New Orleans City Park

Red Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden in New Orleans City Park

You might be familiar with famous Cajun artist George Rodrigue‘s loup-garou, better known as the “Blue Dog.”  There are three of the “dog” sculptures in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Gardens at City Park in New Orleans (there’s also a yellow one). I edited these two in the Waterlogue app which was an obsession several months ago.   I think I like the app because it makes me feel like an artist. 😉

Here’s another of my “Blue Dog” modifications:

"Black and White and Blue All Over"

“Black and White and Blue All Over”

Only the dog kept his color.  These photos were shot three+ years ago. Frankly, I’m not crazy about any of “dog” photos–original or modified.  If I were to capture them again, I’m sure I’d take a completely different approach.

What’s red, white and/or blue in your world?

Nine Years Since…

I’ve been slightly agitated all week long, with “something” gnawing just beneath the surface.  I couldn’t figure the cause of my mental discomfort till late last night when the date “August 29th” hit  me.  August 29th.  August 29th.  Nine years ago, I woke up in my sister’s home in Lithonia, Georgia to discover that just as we all breathed a sigh of relief thinking NOLA had been spared the worst of Hurricane Katrina, the flood protection walls breached.  With that break, so many things in my life changed all at once, and I found myself vacillating between moments of hopefulness and moments of helplessness.  My husband and I did not lose our home, but we lost so much more than that, and in some ways, I am still dealing with those losses today.

I realized recently that I’m a slow griever.  Grief ekes out slowly, laboriously, as I feel I have time to “handle” unpleasant and difficult emotions or the feeling of being out of control.

Typically, I turn away from Katrina and Post-Katrina pictures, but I bought the books and documentaries and captured photos for the time when I will be able to look without turning away.  So today, in an effort to face “head on” some of the raw emotions associated with Hurricane Katrina, I forced myself to look at pictures of homes that I shot a few months after Katrina.  In so doing, I peered into that moment when nature shook everything out of control.  Perhaps, now I can begin to deal with discontinuity and change, not for survival but to live and breathe again.

The photos in this post were all shot December 2005, a few months after the hurricane.  My oldest sister and her oldest daughter (my lovely niece) were visiting from Texas, so we decided to take a drive to view some of the devastation.

In a city like New Orleans, we’re always so careful to lock our doors, particularly just before we leave town.  I imagine the owners of this home, like my husband and I, locked their doors, set the alarm, and left with a few days supply of very casual clothes, fully intending to return to normality days later. Instead, they returned…to salvage what could be salvaged and to have their home gutted…

For me, these images of a home completely displaced from its foundation represents the sudden shift in reality for New Orleanians.  This is how all those first moments and months felt, like some huge thing shifted out of place and repositioned itself where it did not belong.

This next set of houses is a bit more personal–

"2333 Port Street," New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

“Beyond Repair,” New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

This was the house of a family I am close to.  On the surface, not so bad. But in reality, thanks to Katrina, broken beyond repair.

The next two images are of my Aunt Rosemary’s house.  She lived directly across the street from my grandmother, so I spent time at her home whenever I visited my grandmother.  Free huck-a-bucks, a scrumptious meal or treat were always waiting along with our simply fun and off-beat conversations about this and that.  Mae-Mae, as she was affectionately known, played the lottery like no one else I’ve ever known.  I remember, once, she showed me a shopping bag full of lottery tickets.  She helped me select my wedding dress.

"My Aunt's House," New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

“My Aunt’s House,” New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

She had her home rebuilt. She lived in a “Katrina Trailer” for quite some time while waiting for her home to be rebuilt. It was finished in 2008.  She died suddenly, within months of moving into her newly refurbished home.  I’m sure she was one more casualty of the storm.  More loss.  I remember not crying at her funeral because I was afraid the dam would break and I wouldn’t be able to control the flow.

"Contents from My Aunt's House," New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

“Contents from My Aunt’s House,” New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

Nothing in the home was salvageable. Water topped the roof.  Fortunately, she had given my mom the box of old family pictures some time before the storm.  Priceless memories preserved.

This last one cuts deeper than I care to acknowledge.

"My Grandmother's House," New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

“My Grandmother’s House,” New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

I can’t even put into words what I feel when I see images of this house that my grandfather built with his own hands 70 years ago, when my mom was just 7 years old.  I’m sure every grandchild did a little growing up in this home.  My grandfather died when I was nine-years-old, so this has always been in my consciousness “my grandmother’s house.”  It was second home to many of us grandchildren and Grandma always had lots of love for us and our ever-growing families.  We typically used the back door to enter the house and loved hanging out on the front porch.  She died a decade before Hurricane Katrina (one of my aunts was living in the home at the time of Katrina).  Water topped the roof.  This house that survived major hurricanes–the Hurricane of 1947 and Hurricane Betsy in 1965, and dodged Hurricanes Camille (1969), Georges (1998), and (our Pre-K warning) Ivan (2004)–fell to Katrina.

"My Grandmother's House," New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

“My Grandmother’s House,” New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

I could have fallen to the ground and cried when I saw this.  How CRAZY this seemed to me, at first, how unreal that there would be no more memories made in this place.  Instead, I sucked up the pain, snapped a few photos and moved on.

I began to see my life as preK (pre-Katrina) and postK (post-Katrina).  There’s a bit of fuzziness to my preK memory, probably because I don’t want to look too fondly on or romanticize a time before.  After we moved to Alabama a couple of years ago, I stopped referring to life as preK and postK because only New Orleanians (and those many others directly affected) would truly understand.

Days after the levees broke, I went with one of my closest friends, Tarshia, to a mall in Atlanta where she treated me to a pedicure.  We took a trip to Build-a-Bear where I “built” this bear. Her name is “Trini,” short for Katrina.  I refused to clothe her because I felt Katrina had taken everything from us and left us all exposed.  I left her so.

"Trini," Hurricane Katrina Bear, August 2005

“Trini,” Hurricane Katrina Bear, August 2005

I realized just last night that since Katrina, I’ve been holding my breath.  And every loss since has simply made me inhale a bit more deeply.  Maybe, with this acknowledgement, I can start breathing again…

"Hope for Our Future," New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

“Hope for Our Future,” New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

“A Little Something Extra”

I’ve desperately needed to do blog posts for the last few months, but I’ve had to face the unfortunate reality that there was neither time nor energy for anything extra. Since I have so much to share, I determined to find a few minutes today to share at least one item that’s made my mailbox and me happy over the last few weeks.

About a month ago, my friend and visual artist, Amy Bryan, posted a collage of her “woman” art on Facebook and I just had to have it.   Amy had postcards of the collage made, sent the link, and I was the first to order the postcards (yay!).

Here’s the postcard!

Amy Bryan, NOLA Artist

Amy Bryan, Visual Artist, New Orleans, Louisiana

Amy collaged a representative sampling of her woman-centered art.  You can get a closer look at many of the individual images featured in the collage on Amy’s website.  I ordered a set (10 postcards), but, in true New Orleans fashion, Amy added a little something extra, or as we New Orleanians say, “lagniappe.” I was over-the-moon excited when I opened the envelope and found not only the postcards I ordered (+3) but this wonderful print:

"Woman Holding Mustard Greens," by Amy Bryan, Visual Artist

“Holding Mustard Greens,” by Amy Bryan, Visual Artist

This piece, destined for framing and placement in my office, was created on the iPad using the Ukiyoe app.  Amy has created stunning pieces of art using this app.  I especially love her Ghana Series.  [Note: The scanner does little justice to this print]

Amy works with various media, as you can probably tell from the collage.  If you’re interested in learning more about her and her artwork, see her website.

Oh–I almost forgot to mention–Amy created a Christmas ornament that was selected for placement on the White House Christmas tree a few years ago.  That was a proud moment! Amy kindly gave me one of the Christmas cards she designed featuring the ornament, but it disappeared shortly after I received it. My best guess is some post-Katrina mice ate it.  They were a little rampant on campus for a little while Post-K.  :-/

 

 

 

Poetry on Postcards (or, Happy Warmer Days!)

I’m convinced most of the USA has been dreaming of this day–the first day of spring. Many of us have endured a brutal winter, so March 20 means the end of icy and snowy days (is near).

I’m working on a “Poetry on Postcards” swap and decided that I would introduce my partner to a poet she hasn’t read before–Tameka Cage Conley. I am proud to say I know this poet. She completed her undergraduate degree in English at the institution at which I grew up as a professor, scholar, leader, administrator.

Here is one of the postcards I designed for the swap:

"December Rose" and Excerpt from "The Cell Is the Song," by Tameka Cage Conley

“December Rose” and Excerpt from “The Cell Is the Song,” by Tameka Cage Conley

Conley is an extraordinary literary artist (poet, playwright, novelist) on the rise.  You can read the full poem and one other poem, “If Sula Had a Daughter Raised by Nel,” on the Driftless Review site.  Prepare for an experience with words, sound, texture, feeling.

Ironically, the photo was shot on a rainy December day in New Orleans, just outside my parents’ front door.  Is it springy enough to wish you a “Happy Spring?”

The Happy, Happy Mail Month

June was a “happy mail” kind of month.  I found postcards, letters, photos and other goodies in my mailbox almost every day. I was so spoiled by the month of June that it was with a heavy heart that I left the mailbox empty-handed on the first day of July. Well, there was a bill and a boring car magazine I didn’t ask for.  Today was better and made up for yesterday.  For now, I’ll focus on the goodies that came in June.  Some were sent to me for themed swaps.  Others were sent for random happy mail swaps. Still others were sent “just because…”

"Second Line Jazz Band."  New Orleans musicians perform on street corners.  At funerals and celebrations alike, the audience frequently joins in to "second line, dancing as they follow the jazz band through the streets.  Photo by Werner J. Bertsch

“Second Line Jazz Band.”
New Orleans musicians perform on street corners. At funerals and celebrations alike, the audience frequently joins in to “second line, dancing as they follow the jazz band through the streets. Photo by Werner J. Bertsch

My “baby” sister sent the New Orleans postcard.  She also sent one to my hubby and son. Isn’t she sweet?

While we’re on the subject of “tourist” postcards, here are others I received in June:

"Sail into the Harbour," Port Elgin, Ontario.

“Sail into the Harbour,” Port Elgin, Ontario.

“Saugeen Shores” came from swap-bot “Retiredartgal.”  She writes that Port, Elgin, where she lives, Saugeen Township and Southhampton are known as Saugeen Shores which is located on Lake Huron and surrounded by fruit, corn, cattle farms and forests.  10,000 tourists arrive there each summer.

"Martha's Vineyard, Massachussetts."  The popular island resort of  is located approximately 6 miles off the coast of Cape Cod  the island is approximately 25 miles long and 7 miles wide at its extreme width.

“Martha’s Vineyard, Massachussetts.” The popular island resort of is located approximately 6 miles off the coast of Cape Cod the island is approximately 25 miles long and 7 miles wide at its extreme width.

“Mamarochat” sent the “Martha’s Vineyard” postcard because I collect map cards. One of her goals is to visit all 351 towns in Massachussetts.

"The Virgin Islands."  Tropical isalnds located 1100 miles south from Miami, located in the eastern Caribbean.

“The Virgin Islands.” Tropical isalnds located 1100 miles south from Miami, located in the eastern Caribbean.

One of my closest friends, Dee, went all the way home to St. Thomas and “all I got” was this postcard!  Of course, I’m happier with it than I would have been with a T-shirt! 🙂  Thanks, Dee!

“Artybeth3” made our mailbox jump for joy with unexpected mail.  She sent the four postcards below and a beautiful washi tape-decorated envelope filled with even more happy mail. She is so kind. She even sent a postcard to my little one–the Crater Lake one.  Awesome, isn’t she?

(Click each image for a closer look and more information).

“Denimblu14,” who graced my mailbox with the beautiful “Panda Comes to Tea,” featured in an earlier post, blessed my mailbox with another set of cute teddy bears.

"Teddy Bear Tea Party on the Beach"

“Teddy Bear Tea Party at the Beach”

Speaking of teddy bears, “Christy102194” made this A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E teddy bear ATC just for me–for the “Price of Happy Mail Swap” hosted by “Artybeth3.”

"My Teddy Bear." Artist: Christy Turner.  Medium: art pen and watercolor paint

“My Teddy Bear.” Artist: Christy Turner. Medium: art pen and watercolor paint

“Pyropae” shared a lovely postcard she received from one of her penpals; she captured my love for purple and flowers all in one postcard.

It’s a good thing people send me lots of flower postcards and photos.  I’m quickly learning that I’m allergic to practically every flower I meet, so this is a less “sneezy-itchy-scratchy” way for me to enjoy the beauty!

I joined a few “Children’s Book Illustration Swaps” in June. Here are the postcards I received so far:

"Miffy."  Illustration by Dick Bruna.

“Miffy.” Illustration by Dick Bruna.

Johanna sent Miffy–Nijntje in Dutch–all the way from the Netherlands.  She loved reading Miffy as a child and has the pleasure of enjoying the books again with her two small children.

Wonderful Jenny, from Oregon, sent the next two.  Like me, she probably has a difficult time limiting the “verbage” to one postcard.

"The Snow Queen." Illustration by Edmund Dulac.  Stories from Hans Christian Andersen, 1911.  From Once Upon a Time.

“The Snow Queen.” Illustration by Edmund Dulac. Stories from Hans Christian Andersen, 1911. From Once Upon a Time.

"Alice succeeded in getting her flamingo's body tucked away, comfortably enough, under her arm, but generally just as she had got its neck nicely straightened out, it would twist itself round and look up into her face.  From Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.   Illustration by Margaret Tarrant.

“Alice succeeded in getting her flamingo’s body tucked away, comfortably enough, under her arm, but generally just as she had got its neck nicely straightened out, it would twist itself round and look up into her face.”  From Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
Illustration by Margaret Tarrant.

I sent an Alice in Wonderland postcard to a partner who loves A-I-W. This one came from the Postcards from Puffin collection.  Just in case you didn’t know, Puffin is the children’s imprint of Penguin Books (links to USA sites).

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  Illustration by John Tenniel, Puffin, 1946

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Illustration by John Tenniel, Puffin, 1946

And here’s the postcard I received on the last postal day in June, sent to me by “eepy,” from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. She sent this one because of my love for “bookish” postcards.  I enjoy receiving eepy’s letters and postcards–she’s so engaging.

New Yorker. Cover by Arthur Getz, March 3, 1973

New Yorker. Cover by Arthur Getz, March 3, 1973

That’s just some of the postcards I received in June. I also received a number of photos.

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If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll recognize Dee Stead from an earlier post.  She creates gorgeous photo cards and always sends warm letters and other goodies (like elegant stationery for my own use).   Kate includes some of her photos in a meditation book she’s created.  I received from Margie before, but I don’t think I’ve posted her work on the blog before.  Interestingly, she and Kate are from the same town in North Carolina.

That’s it for now. There’s more to share, but I think I’ve given you enough visual pleasure for one post.  See ya soon!

Month of Letters: More Postcards!

My little one is ill at the moment, so I’ve placed plans on hold to get some of my personal letters out in the mail.  I did manage to meet my mail commitments for February 4th and 5th–thanks to swap-bot and Postcrossing.  Three postcards–one an advertising card–hit the “mail stream” the last two days.

Aerial View of the French Quarter in New Orleans.  Interestingly, this was sent to a swap-bot who lives in Alabama but wants to move to New Orleans some day.

Aerial View of the French Quarter in New Orleans. This was sent to a swap-bot who lives in Alabama but wants to move to NOLA some day.  I wonder what she’ll say when she learns that I’m a New Orleanian who recently moved to AL! 🙂

And here’s the advertising card I sent out:

Matine Chaisson Gallery presents NIAGARA:  paintings by JACK NIVIEN.  This is from a late 2010 exhibition.

Martine Chaisson Gallery presents NIAGARA: paintings by JACK NIVEN.
“The Woods” by Jack Niven, 2009, Oil on Canvas

If you’re planning to visit New Orleans, the MCG is located at 727 Camp Street.  If you’re thirsting for more of Jack Niven, an artist who lives and works in New Orleans, check out his website.

That was yesterday.

Today, I sent a “Happy Animal” postcard to a Postcrosser from Kiev (Ukraine).  I’d forgotten all about our private swap, until I received a postcard from her (see below).  Eek!  “Feja” likes animals and Winnie-the-Pooh, so I thought she’d appreciate a cute animal.

Happy Animal Time by Junzo Terada

Happy Animal Time by Junzo Terada

According to the bio provided, Junzo Terada is an Osaka-based artist.  He designs and illustrates a wide variety of products that can be found in the Comes Mart store he owns in Osaka, Japan.  The Happy Animal Time collection of 30 different postcards is published by Chronicle Books.

Here’s the awesome card “Feja” sent to me:

"Woman's Strength" (my title)

By Smugasta

I “heart” this postcard, but I really can’t tell you much about it because everything is written in Russian or Ukrainian.  You can find more of the artist’s work at Smugasta or at Smugasta’s Live Journal.  Even if you can’t read a word, the artist provides a lot interesting, amusing, quirky and fun illustrations for  your visual pleasure.

That’s it for now!  See you tomorrow–maybe!