Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gone but not Forgotten

We'll be taking just a short trip in the Retro Rocket today to tell the story of two stamps that have crossed the inky Rainbow Bridge to the Happy Stamping Ground.

Miss Moppett was carved for what I thought would be my very first postal: a ring dedicated to the works of Beatrix Potter. Unfortunately, the organizers went off the grid before the ring started, but not before I had mailed my stamp and logbook to them. Curiously, this was the 11th stamp that I carved, 2 months into my letterboxing journey. It is the first one that I carved as a positive image. The stamp might be gone, but there is a grey wad of fur sleeping on my bed named Moppett that isn't going anywhere. :)
It is my understanding that the letterboxers that this went to had, and may still be having, serious issues with illness. The people behind the trailnames are always far more precious than any hunk of rubber, no matter how much time is invested in the carving. It is my sincere hope that they will find peace and healing, whether they are able to return to letterboxing or not.
AKC Spots was carved for a young boxer to use for a school project. The hope was that after the project was complete, the donated boxes would be planted, giving the rest of us a chance to one day "find" our own boxes. I made this image before I realized that the stamp needed the extra support of a mount. The end result created a much better impression. Just for fun, I included the Hydrant HH.

More Retro Rocket later!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


We're still in the Time Machine today, only this time it's to revisit cooties. First, I have a slight confession. My cabinet is a place where cooties go to die. Sorry. When I first started letterboxing and learned about the little buggers, I thought they were fun. I came home with one of them from my first event.
While planning on meeting with a fellow boxer during Hubby's hospital stay in Minnesota, I carved several "hospital germs" to pass along, only the meeting never happened. So they were pawed off on a local friend and I still get reports occasionally.
"Below Zero" was carved for a friend when we boxed together in the January snow a couple of years ago. It has long since gone off the grid.

All of the Chinese themed cooties were carved for SILO since there was a Chinese New Year theme. Only I spent the morning stuck in the snow in the ditch and never made it to the event, so they too were passed along later. Only one survives to my knowledge.

And then there are the "Tunes". These cooties were based on songs from the 50s that get stuck in your head. They attended a couple of events along with their matching Jukebox stamp (more as a tabletop box) and then were retired. Or repurposed, I should say. They have been featured on LTCs, sent out as Hitchhikers, and given as gifts.

After hosting a small event in my house, my feelings toward cooties changed dramatically. Those crazy people even cootied my dog. I was finding cooties for days; in my silverware, on my fridge, in the bathroom candle...

A well executed cootie would still be fun, but most of them that I have seen (including my own) aren't worth the effort of stamping them. **Gasp!** Did I just say that out loud? For the most part, they just detract from time that I could spend getting to know people or hunting "real" boxes.

Toad Hollow

We're dredging the archives today, Folks! Remember Toad Hollow? Well, here it is:

Two and a half years ago, Wassamatta_U got something started with his Boxers 'n Briefs. You can read about it here, here and here.
The short version is that Toad Hollow (a real place) was created for the purpose of encouragement. The LB community took the idea and ran with it. I'm not even sure of all of the directions that it went, but I know a Postal was created, of a sorts. The principle was simple: when someone needed encouragement, the call went out and whoever felt led to participate sent that person a note or some other bit of edification. Unbeknown to all, several of us were keeping track and when a piece of encouragement went out, a piece was also received. For my part, I carved a number of stamps straight off of the literature that Ralph Morrison sent to me and mailed them to people who took part in our campaign of encouragement.

Bear in mind that I had only been carving for about 6 months. This campfire is quite horrid.

One stamp image was sent for each of our "missions". If a person participated in the first six missions, then they could collect all of the images.
After awhile, the logistics of where to send what started creating headaches and so I stopped carving. Eventually, I mailed the toad stamp to Mr. Morrison as a thank you for sharing his idea with us. I think the rest of them are still in the cabinet.

It is entirely possible that some aspects of this concept are still active today, but I haven't heard about it in quite awhile. The LB community seems pretty good (for the most part) at looking out for each other without any formal organization. The spirit of Toad Hollow lives on.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Private Memories

My brother Eric, who could be a professional photographer with little trouble, has the philosophy that if you spend all of your time behind a camera or video lens there is a great deal that you can miss.
This plays out in our household on a regular basis. An interesting bird or animal shows up in our yard and I can choose to run for the camera or just sit and enjoy. If I go for the camera then I run the risk of the creature disappearing before I've had a chance to get a good look at it. On the other hand, if it stays then I might get a photo as a permanent memento. What a dilemma! It certainly allows me to see the advantages of Charlotte Mason's method of Nature Study~observe and draw it in your journal as soon as you can.

As the person with the super senses in our house (everyone knows that Moms hear, see and smell all), I am privy to conversations and happenings when my children are unaware that I am paying attention. This gives me the opportunity to provide guidance and correction where necessary. Perhaps what is more fun is that it also allows me to build up my own storehouse of memories that no camera could duplicate.

Yesterday, for instance, after we had finished with our history lesson on the Emperor Justinian and the Byzantine Empire, the girls were having a conversation about why they were glad that Justinian and Theodora had rebuilt the Hagia Sophia after the rebellion had been overthrown. Not only did the discussion tell me that they remembered the lesson well enough not to even need the test (which they got anyway), but it made me smile inside to hear my 7yo throw around terms like Hagia Sophia with such dispatch and talk about how she felt about an event that happened 1500 years ago.
This morning J came into my room holding a 9 inch blue ball under her chin and asked me if I thought she looked like a Frigate bird. Yes, I laughed. And then proceeded to hug her until she pretended she was choking. No photograph could possibly convey the context of that experience.

I'm sure that every mother has in her mind and heart page after page of such memories for which there can be no picture to do it justice.
I pray that nothing every happens to that scrapbook.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Philosophy of Scrapbooking, part 2

When our youngest came along, we were lucky to remember to use the camera, much less get each photo magnificently mounted. I started using lots more stickers and scraps of paper for accents, reserving the time intensive punched pages for the front covers of the albums and a few select pages inside.
J has two newborn albums. This is the first page of the one she has not been allowed to see because of the graphic nature of many of her NICU photos. Someday, when we're both ready, we'll make a pilgrimage to OSF and I will show it to her.

Her other album starts on the day she came home from the hospital, much like every other baby album. This is her one year picture on the first page.

This is my all time favorite picture of J. The far off, thoughtful look with the smirk gives me no amount of joy when I see it to this day.

We don't celebrate Halloween, but occasionally participate in a Fall Festival/Harvest Party event. When she was two, she was a pile of leaves.

One final punched page was created for her 2nd baby dedication. Her first was in the NICU.

As the speed of life surpasses the speed of sound, scrapbooking has taken another drastic turn in our household. It has ceased to exist. We have, instead, opted for photo albums. You know, the kind where you take the packet from Walgreens and just slide the pictures into the plastic slots? Yep. That's it.
But I like it. Now when my girls look through the pictures of field trips, vacations and holidays, they talk to each other. They laugh and share "remember when" moments that I didn't bother to journal about. They ask the adults (aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc) to explain what they are looking at. That's something I never saw with the "fancy" albums.

Philosophy of Scrapbooking

The danger in asking your children what you should write about on your blog is that no matter what they suggest, you sort of have to follow up on it. They chose their scrapbooks.
Around the time our oldest was born, the Creative Memories craze was at it's peak in our area. And like the dutiful new Mom that I was, I allowed myself to be sucked into the frenzy. I attended one of the parties and left feeling grateful that I did not have a huge backlog of pictures that needed attention. I purchased and cropped and layered and filled a good sized album with really incredible pages. And then I came to my senses. Yes, some of those pages were unbelievably fun or beautiful. But some of them only contained one or two actual pictures. I also started noticing that my fun and beautiful pages looked almost identical to the other moms fun and beautiful pages. We were, after all, attending the same "crop camps". And was eating peas for the first time really a milestone that needed to be celebrated with a double page spread?
Yeah, that what I thought too.

So very quickly my philosophy of scrapbooking changed. I started doing fast pages with lots of photos on them and a few quick accent stickers, or a cute, slightly more work, punched border. I borrowed ideas from the Punch Art books, or came up with my own. And surprise! The albums looked more unique and became more about the pictures of my girls and less about the decorations.

Then we had our second child; one who didn't entertain herself quietly with books for hours on end. And my scrapbooking philosophy changed once again...

Friday, September 18, 2009

No More Peg Leg

I got the official release today to start moving around with my brace "unlocked". That might not sound like much, but it means no more clumping around like I have a wooden peg leg, which is exhausting at best. It means that I am one more step closer to driving and getting on the treadmill again. It means that the trails are no longer an impossible pipe dream. It means that being a good little girl and doing everything that my therapist tells me to do is paying off. It means that it will be that much easier for me to get into trouble.

119 Reasons: #1, 26, 51

A very long time ago, I began compiling a list of reasons why we chose to homeschool our children. Just for fun, I thought I'd occasionally share a few of them here, in no particular order. While there are truly 119 "Reasons for and Benefits of Homeschooling" on my list, it seems unlikely that I will ever share all of them here.
I confess that Reason #51 got tweaked a little bit today after an incident at the school where my cousin's children attend.

  • Reason #1: Sufficient evidence and sound reasoning having been presented, it is our belief that the desired will of God includes the private and personal education of JLC and MRC, hereby referred to as the Students, in a manner and environment which will best suit their individual needs. Therefore, the Parent Company has created an organization, hereby referred to as The Organization, to oversee the administration of said education. It is hereby noted that although there are sufficient other reasons (see #2-119) for said education, the Will of God is the highest reason and therefore must be followed regardless of the opinions and desires of any Faculty, Staff, Students or Others not directly involved in this education, Organization, or Parent Company.
  • Reason #26: Inasmuch as the desired learning is accomplished and maintained by the Student, the Organization places no constraints as to the location that the learning takes place. The Organization sees no need in restricting education to the classroom, but deems the couch, the porch, and the tree house of equal quality and value so long as the location does not hinder or become a distraction to the learning process. Conversely, if the classroom itself becomes a hindrance, then it must be discarded in favor of a more suitable location.
  • Reason #51: Inasmuch as the Organization has observed that the very safety of their persons, not to mention the concentration and attentiveness of the students is severely affected by such occurrences of the implementation of “Soft Lockdown” in the Public Schools, it is hereby deemed perilous and an unacceptable venue for learning. Wherein the singular incidence of lockdown in this Facility was due to the entrance of a wasp, the risk of bodily harm seems significantly less.
Disclaimer: It is hoped that the fact that the above mentioned Teacher, Principal, Parent Company and Organization are all one and the same will be looked upon as a convergence and reaffirmation of goals rather than a conflict of interest.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In Memory

I could not think of a more appropriate tribute to Janet, a friend who was lost before I knew her half as much as I would have liked.


Now I out walking
The world desert,
And my shoe and my stocking
Do me no hurt.

I leave behind
Good friends in town,
Let them get well-wined
And go lie down.

Don't think I leave
For the outer dark
Like Adam and Eve
Put out of the Park.

Forget the myth.
There is no one I
Am put out with
Or put out by.

Unless I'm wrong
I but obey
The urge of a song:

And I may return
If dissatisfied
With what I learn
From having died.

~Robert Frost

Blooming Flowers, you will be missed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Sorry, can't fold the laundry today...'s Occupied.

Speaking of being occupied~my posting might taper off for a little while. I'm in the middle of several projects that I want to write about, but they are pretty involved and will take some time to complete.
In the mean time, you're stuck with banalities like pictures of my cats.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ginger Ale

Here is another Hardanger piece that was completed this afternoon. It was worked with Perle Cotton thread on a 25 count Lugana fabric called "Fairy Dust", which is the palest of yellows.

One of the imponderables of fiber arts is DMC's choice not to make this thread in both sizes needed to complete a Hardanger embroidery piece. Almost all Hardanger uses both a size 5 and a size 8 (or 8 and 12) and Perle Cotton is the thread of choice. This one only comes in size 5. And while I am aware that this occassionally happens, of course, I didn't check for such a contingency before I started this time. And of course, I didn't discover the problem until I already had all of my satin and buttonhole stitching complete. Consequently, all of the open work and solid motifs are done with a variegated Silk'n Colors called "Mint Floss" which runs from almost white to a very pale mint green, which is difficult to see in the photo. Hence, the name "Ginger Ale"...with just a hint of lime. Naming embroidery is not my strong suite and I lean heavily toward food or ladies' names.

Finished size is 6 1/2 x 8". Total time 13 hours (or 5 Star Wars and one LoTR movies).

I'd like to note that I really do enjoy the DMC fibers and usually don't run into this kind of trouble. Happily, this time I was able to compensate and end up with a piece that I still like. And I learned my lesson for next time too.
I'd also like to put in a plug for Thread Gatherer fibers, and especially their Silk'n Colors. While not a traditional Hardanger thread, they are a feast for the eyes and positively delicious to work with. Maybe that's where the food names come from? Yumminess.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Random Acts of Stupidity

So, I've been watching way more television than I care to admit lately, but I had a revelation last night during a program that I am not even going to confess to seeing.

If I had a dollar for every idiotic thing that people say or do (or watch~**snicker**) on TV, I would be a very wealthy woman indeed. I'm pretty sure that a lot of you feel the same way. So just for the fun of it, let's make a list of mind numbing dumbness. Send me your favorite Random Acts of Stupidity and I'll add them to the list. Here are a couple of my favorites:

  • "Reality" television of any kind. Don't even get me started.
  • Scented garbage bags with odor blocking technology (???)
  • "Because truth is more dangerous than fiction"~from the trailer for the upcoming season of Destination Truth on SyFy.
  • The "lollipop" Dell commercial--Aaaahhhhh!
  • Using sex to sell everything from rice to radial tires.
  • The phrases "because you're worth it" and "because you deserve it".
  • The newest Scion commercial~I recommend they look up the definition of Icon.
That should give you a nudge. Now it's your turn.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Delicious Denim

Nothing major to report today other than the fact that I am wearing Jeans for the first time since pre-surgery and I cannot begin to tell you how good it feels! Ahhhhh.....