Many Postage Stamps + Washi Tape = Happier Mail

When an envelope that looks like this (below) arrives in your mailbox, you almost forget there might be something even more interesting inside!

After studying the stamps for several minutes, I did finally open the envelope to find an elegant handmade card from my penfriend Beth. She and I had not corresponded in quite some time, so I was overjoyed to receive a newsy letter from her.

“This Is the Day,” Handmade Card by Beth

My scanner is being weird, and no matter what I do, I can’t capture the vibrant colors in the card.  “In real life,” the white is whiter, the pink is “pinker” and the gold is “golder,” shinier, and more glittery.

Beth made the card with card stock, washi tape, and a scripture stamp. If I remember correctly, she’s the reason I made my first washi tape card (so embarrassed by it now) and postcards many moons ago. I haven’t made a washi card in years!

Her card comes at a good time. I’ve been bored with my washi tape (and my Cricut), but you can guess what I’ll be up to this weekend…

Thanks for the happy mail and the weekend therapy, Beth!

Thankful.

“Thankful” made for the Global Art Swap/heART Exchange by Lori K.

What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude. –Brene Brown

A couple of posts on Instagram resonated with me this morning. One, I might share another time, but the post by my IG friend, @gallionista, bears repeating today. We live in a world where people feel they are “entitled” to this and that, so her message is timely.

[…] To be content is a privilege and a delicate matter that must be curated and planned and protected.  Show gratitude for all the [stuff] that makes you happy: say thank  you; tell a person; write about it; paint a mural; cook a meal; hug for five seconds longer.  Just show that you understand the complexity of what is temporary, fragile, or gifted.  [Emphasis mine].

When we realize NONE of our comforts are guaranteed–none of them are ours by “right,” that all of them are privilege and fortune and gift and blessing and grace, that “here today, gone tomorrow” is a reality for many and can be for us too–we’ll begin to grasp what it means to be thankful, to be grateful for ALL we have.

Take a moment today and begin a list of all your privileges and whisper a prayer of gratitude for each.and.every.one.

Vintage Bears Need Love Too!

Do you want to see some vintage bears? Nope, not teddy bears. Regular, real life bears. Because of my ❤ for bears, my postcard pal, Fran B, sent me a nice set of seven vintage bear postcards she found at estate sales and antique shops, and I’ve been looking forward to sharing them.

The first five postcards feature bears from Yellowstone National Park. The postcards are undated, but three of the five were copyrighted by Haynes Picture Shops, Inc., St. Paul, MN and Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Based on the one-cent postage required, they were printed either before World War I or immediately afterwards.

Take a look!

From the postcard back: Twin Cub Bears, Yellowstone Park. The black bear exists in the park in a number of color phases. The commonest type is black with a brown nose.  Others are dark and medium brown, reddish brown and dull buffy brown. Even cub bears resent being teased and are usually treated with the respect they deserve.

From the postcard back: The Woman Bear, Yellowstone Park. “The most remarkable wild animal picture ever taken” (Ernest Thompson Seton), as photographed in the mountain wilds near the Grand Canyon by E. W. Hunter, master wild animal photographer of the Haynes organization.

From the postcard back: The Grizzly Bear, also known as the silver tip, is the most respected of all of the family of bears, not alone by men but by other bears. They are inoffensive if not molested, but when attacked they become extremely dangerous.

I’m not sure if the other two Yellowstone bears (below) were published by the Haynes Picture Shops or if the three bears above were part of the same series. There’s no company name on the back, but there is a symbol or logo and an arrow with letters–company initials, maybe???

Notice the letters in the arrow?  HHT CO or is it T CO?

“Brown Bear Waiting for Garbage, Yellowstone National Park”

From the postcard back: A Yellowstone Park Bear. The bears of the Park are objects of peculiar interest. No sound of gun or bark of dog is ever heard, and the bears, though wild, have become so tame that they give only curious notice to the tourists as they pass. Some of the bears are wrapped in robes that would command a fancy price. They come down in the evening from their home in the hills to feed around the hotels.

From the postcard back: Bears in Yellowstone Park. With each succeeding year the wild animals in the Park become a more interesting feature of it. Here is really the only place where the public in general can freely see the animals of the forest and the wilds in their natural state. The bears are found near the hotesl and it requires no exertion, beyond the walk of a few rods, by tourists to see them.

The postcard below was printed circa 1950 and features a Polar Bear at the Forest Park Zoo in St. Louis, Missouri.

“Polar Bear Pit,” Published by Paul Monroe Company

From the postcard back: Polar Bear Pit, Forest Park Zoo, St. Louis, Missouri. The entire zoo occupies 77 acres in Forest Park. At a cost of $250,000, these famous cageless bear pits were built. The bears are separated from nearby spectators only by a wide moat banked by a concrete shelving which the bears can’t climb.

This final postcard warns us to watch out for (bear) hitchhikers. They’re not as innocent as they appear.

Seney, MI, Published by ColourPicture, Boston, Massachusetts

From the postcard back: Black Bear Hitchhiker. Although sometimes thought of as a big lovable clown, don’t let this panhandling act fool you. Bears are dangerous animals and should be viewed from a distance.

So they’re not fluffy, cuddly bears we can take home with us, but we can still love them–from a safe distance.

Thanks to Fran, the cards are now part of my vintage postcard collection. When time permits, I will work to find out more information about the postcards, but for now, I’ll just enjoy them.

Note: Information from the postcard back was typed as it appears on the back of the postcards. I wouldn’t call a “female bear” a “woman bear.” 😉

Slaying Dragons and Painting Dreams

I captured the image (above) a week or so ago when my hubby, son, and I were exploring downtown. The chair is colorful and worthy of photographing, but I was drawn to the quote.

I dream my painting and then paint my dream.  –Van Gogh

It is perfectly aligned with where my head is at the moment–planning and working toward a few goals.

A few days before encountering the chair, one of my besties and I decided to work toward completing our top three goals and report our progress to each other every week. By the beginning of week one, I was ready to slay in a serious way. By the end, I was whining inwardly that I’d made zero progress on any of my goals.

Thanks to Thanksgiving Break, I’ve had a moment or two of clarity and I’ve concluded that “goal slay” is as much about slaying the dragons that stand in our way as it is about actually achieving our goals: Dragons of time. Dragons of demands. Dragons of habit. Dragons of neglect. Dragons of doubt and fear.

The reality–life is busy and full, so we often have little time to squeeze in a new thing, goal, activity, even person. We’ve developed some patterns and routines that must change. Even our perceived good habits have to change if we are to accomplish our goals. What’s more daunting? We must sharpen our swords on our own imagined dragons before we can slay the really scary ones.

So although I’ve not checked any of the boxes directly leading to any of my goals, I’ve made significant progress on the process. I have well-defined goals and a solid plan to slay some dragons. That’s something…isn’t it?

Creative Conundrum

I’m on break for seven more glorious days (including the weekend). I desperately need a mental break, so I’m trying not to slip into my old “Thanksgiving Break” habit of spending the entire time grading papers, catching up, and updating my grade book.

There is a pile of books on the floor in my crafting space, paint, ink, and a bin of stamps begging for attention–not to mention the words, words, words in my head needing to come out!

So many things to get into, so little time.  But…I’m determined to get my hands stained with ink and paint and stuck to something this week.

What about you? Are you planning any creative adventures this week?


Speaking of Sunflowers…

“Chelsey’s Sunflower” Postcard Made by Trang K.

Isn’t this the most adorable piglet “sunning” beneath the brilliant rays of a sunflower? This postcard was beautifully made by the talented Trang K, who sent me a different sunflower few months ago. Trang wrote a long note, sweetly embellished with  flourishes, doodled flowers, hearts, and a butterfly.  She closed the card with, “You are a blessing and a treasure” written in gold. I’m convinced her heart overflows into each card she makes.

My sunflowers bloom all year long, thanks to my penfriends.

“The Sunflowers” by Mary Oliver

Come with me
into the field of sunflowers.
Their faces are burnished disks,
their dry spines

creak like ship masts,
their green leaves,
so heavy and many,
fill all day with the sticky

sugars of the sun.
Come with me
to visit the sunflowers,
they are shy

but want to be friends;
they have wonderful stories
of when they were young –
the important weather,

the wandering crows.
Don’t be afraid
to ask them questions!
Their bright faces,

which follow the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds –
each one a new life!

hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,

is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy. Come

and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.

Spot On!

When Arielle W. offered to send postcards from NASA to interested members of the Love Notes community, I responded “no thanks” because I live in “space central.” Boy, am I glad she ignored me! Why? Just look and see!

Detail of a Sunspot. Big Bear Solar Observatory, New Jersey Institute of Technology

This “space” postcard looks so much like a sunflower that at first glance I thought it was a sunflower. Maybe, this was because I was wearing multifocal contacts–which are amazing in bright light, but a little weird in dim light–but I think many people would have had to take a second look before realizing the image isn’t a sunflower.

The back of the postcard reads:

This detailed image taken in 2010 by the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s New Solar Telescope at the Big Bear Solar Observatory–a project partially funded by NASA–features an enormous sunspot on the photosphere of the Sun that is slightly larger than the Earth.

Arielle sent this to me (anyway) because she “thought of me and my love of sunflowers…the card looks almost like a sunflower.” She couldn’t have chosen a better “space” card for me!

Even though this amazing card did not need any help, she also wrote a popular Shakespeare “misquote” on the back:

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.

In case you’re interested, the actual lines are from Julius Caesar:

Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings. –Cassius to Brutus, Act I, scene ii

There’s some irony in the quote masquerading as Shakespeare appearing on postcard of a sunspot–which I mistook for a sunflower.

Spiritual Beings.

Red Roses, Yellow Roses, and a Little Slice of Paradise

Recently–as in two months ago–my friend Kemi shared with me photos of the beautiful roses her husband gave her for their 21st anniversary.

That reminded me! I hadn’t hosted a “roses” photography swap in quite some time. In fact, it had been four years since I hosted the “One Perfect Rose” swap on swap-bot . We were overdue for another one–especially since I’ve been making progress on photographing roses. So…I set up the swap in the “A Thousand Words” group.

The goal of the swap was to send a photo that captured the sentiment of Dorothy Parker’s poem, “One Perfect Rose,” and write a note about a gift the sender desires from his or her significant other–instead of roses.

Diane W (Midteacher), my partner whose work you’ve seen here on the blog before, sent photos of her beautiful hybrid tea roses.

Hybrid Tea Rose, or Tahitian Sunset, Photo by Diane W. aka Midteacher

According to Midteacher, the Hybrid Tea Rose, dubbed “Tahitian Sunset,” is also described as a “little slice of paradise.” She fell in love with the roses while working at a local nursery to help pay for her wedding. A resourceful bride-to-be, she purchased the rose bush and had her florist make her wedding bouquet and other floral arrangements. She even worked extra shifts to make sure she’d have enough of the gorgeous tea roses.

“A Little Slice of Paradise,” Photo by Diane W. aka Midteacher

Midteacher snaps photos of the blooms every year and shares that the buds are much more colorful than the full blooms. In her usual impressive way, she crafted the photos into inspiration for my walls and journals.

I fretted considerably over which roses to send to my partner–raindrops on roses? white roses? pink roses? red roses? Roses I shot in New Orleans last winter? Roses I shot in Huntsville last spring? I can barely remember what I actually sent her since I looked through so many before making my decision. But I’ll save my photographs for another day.

Let’s give these beauties our full attention today.

Vintage in My Mailbox

It’s “hump day,” and as usual by midweek, exhaustion has a strong grip on my mind and body, so I’m dropping in with a quick post to share the vintage photography postcards I received yesterday.

The postcard below tells the story of my life–a book in my hand, glasses nearby, ever mindful of the time.

This one speaks to the creativity breaks I’ve purposefully taken to maintain sanity and balance–photo walks, capturing the splendor of autumn and the intriguing sights in the places I travel throughout the day(s).

Christine B sent both to me–the first one because she thought I’d like it, the second one because the camera and photos remind her of me. Of course, I love both because…there’s something about vintage photography. 😉

One of the things that attracts me to vintage and antique things is they have stories, and even if I don’t know the stories, I make them up. –Mary Kay Andrews

Until tomorrow…