Rufus the Red Nose Mule

Rudolph’s Distant Cousin

Rufus and his Family Tree

“Rufus” insists on wearing his favorite Christmas ornaments for you. As far as lineage is concerned, Rufus, the mule, is a distant cousin to “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.”

Rufus is not your traditional mule. He’s from the Ozarks. He’s a powerhouse and a trend setter who prefers argyle sweaters to bib overalls and a life of eating sorghum to pulling the treading pole of the sorghum press.

Birth of Rufus

Santa Claus original by Peter Engler of Santa with bird, bunny, and tree
St. Nicholas, Santa Claus, original by Peter Engler

Rufus was born in an art studio. Darrell’s [Wiskur] imagination was in Christmas mode as he sketched and carved patterns and characters with Peter Engler,  a famous wood-carver and friend.

Peter designed Santa carvings after the style of St. Nicholas or Father Christmas. His Santa’s were coveted by tourists to his woodcarving shop in Branson, Mo. He was always carving, but no Santa of his ever sat on the shelf with a For Sale tag. Rather, they were sold by special requests from a long waiting list of tourists who became friends and collectors of his delightful characters.

The mule is noble in Missouri, so Darrell whittled twigs for antlers and added a bulbous nose and a Santa hat. It wasn’t long before Rufus the mule  emerged as Rufus the red nose reindeer!

Rufus carving
Rufus in his furry Santa hat to wish all a Merry Christmas!

Home in the Ozarks

Twinkling lights (over four million at Silver Dollar City, Mo., alone) outnumber neon lights in the Ozarks during the holidays.  Here, deer wander into our yards and nibble on shrubs and rose bushes; buffalo graze on ridges at our premier golf course (Buffalo Ridge, Branson, Mo.); and mules hold a place of distinction on  farms and at theme parks, pulling plows and grinding sorghum. It’s a perfect home for Rufus.

It’s Christmas Eve, and I saw Rufus peeking out the barn window, hoping to catch a glimpse of cousin Rudolph at the head of Santa’s sleigh.

Merry Christmas and the happiest of newest New Year’s!

 

Merry Moosmas & the Flying Moose

A Wish for a Merry Moosmas!

Red criss cross ornamentMy flying moose began as a sketch by Darrell over a year ago. I think he was still laughing when he got out his paper and pencil.
While watching a promo for Warbirds and the Men Who Flew Them, he heard the moderator refer to photographer Moose Peterson as the “Flying Moose,” a nickname the  pilots gave him for his many flights to photograph the noble planes.
So, visions of a flying moose leaped into Darrell’s head and onto paper. Darrell added runaway sleigh bells to the sketch for me because I was in a Christmas state of mind.

I copied the sketch to my iPad and used it as my layout in Inkpad to wish you a Merry Moosmas!

A flying moose is better than a goose! -D. Wiskur

A Fireplace, a Hallmark Movie, and an iPad

Snowman ornamentI binged on Hallmark Christmas movies while on vacation. It was the day after Thanksgiving, and I was feeling rather festive.
I don’t know how the Hallmark Channel has eluded me all these years, but it was perfect for my holiday, particularly since it rained the first three days of vacation.

Watching Christmas movies in front of a fireplace, overlooking the lake, at Big Cedar’s five star woodland resort, with my husband, is hard to beat.

gingerbread tree cookie
Gingerbread tree

When you check into your room at Big Cedar, you are welcomed with freshly-baked cookies, waiting on your night stand. Each evening during your stay, cookies magically appear to your room, thanks to the Cookie Lady. So, I ate cookies and drew cookies.

Angel cookie covered in frosting with stars on her wings
Frosted Angel Cookie

I worked the hardest on the angel cookie because I wanted it to look like it had piles of fluffy icing on top.

Of course, I made snowmen and stars and bells and a row of penguin cookies, each a little different from the other.

Continue reading Merry Moosmas & the Flying Moose

Christmas in the Spirit of St. Nicholas

St. NicholasEACH YEAR WE DRAW NAMES FOR A GIFT EXCHANGE with the family tree. It’s been a tradition for years to draw names after Thanksgiving dinner and as soon as our tummies are filled with dessert and Wendy’s coffee frappe. The adults draw names and the cousins draw names.

But NOT this year. We decided that since Christmas is not about the gifts, we would not draw names to exchange gifts at Christmas dinner. After all, “Santa” already makes a myriad of visits to our homes on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, filling stockings and stashing gifts under the tree. There is no lack of gifts, thanks to parents, grandparents, friends, and aunts and uncles. So, to rustle up more gifts for an extended family exchange seemed superfluous.

Moose ornamentWhat followed was the biggest Christmas surprise ever. When we arrived for Christmas dinner at Greg and Wendy’s, we found a tree circled with gifts. Of course, we didn’t think anything about the gifts because we had decided not to exchange gifts this year. Still, it was puzzling to walk into a room and see a myriad of beautifully-wrapped, unopened gifts under the tree and in the middle of Christmas Day!

We later learned that St. Nicholas had been there and left a gift for each of us, a jaw dropping moment.

Continue reading Christmas in the Spirit of St. Nicholas

Christmas Ornaments and eBay

Bell Christmas ornaments, made in Japan
Porcelain bell ornaments, made in Japan

Are you busy digging out Christmas ornaments like me?

I’ve decided mine have grown either more precious or more ridiculous with age. Sometimes I have to laugh over the things we’ve hung on our tree.

For years we hung a parking ticket on our tree. We got the ticket on Christmas Eve, one starry night in the 70s. We were busy with Christmas when Darrell looked out the living room to see a  parking ticket on the windshield of our car, which we had parked on the street and not in our driveway.

When Darrell spotted the ticket gleaming brightly in the street light —on Christmas Eve — he marched out the door and down the sidewalk, huffing and puffing all the way to the car. Minutes later, he came back in the door dancing a jig.

Our friend, Lieutenant Ed Sweeney on the Aurora [Illinois] Police Dept., had left us a ticket, and the ticket read, “Fine $40,000 – Merry Christmas! Ed!” We hung the ticket on the tree that night and laughed about it for years.
Funny parking ticket left on car window

Continue reading Christmas Ornaments and eBay

Early Snowfall and Pillowcase Art

Snowy art for pillowcases by Darrell Wiskur to color
Snowfall in the Ozarks

 A dreamy, deep snow came early to Arkansas, 2013.

We hope for snow in the Ozarks

We woke one morning to a mid-December snow, 10-inches deep, over a slick layer of ice. We were glad for the surprise snowfall.

It is always super nice not having to fret about if or if-not we will have a Hallmark snow before Christmas Day … always a quandary in the Arkansas Ozarks.

Snowbound and off school, the grandchildren went sledding, built snowmen, and decorated gingerbread houses … putting everyone in a holiday state of mind.

School buses, parked. Our world stood still.

As we were on the verge of cabin fever, the sun came out and melted the snow. Alas, we were as happy to see the snow go as to see it come.

How To Tutorial

Pillowcase art for a snowy Christmas

The snowy woodland scene is an illustration by hubby Darrell Wiskur for a book daughter Wendy O’Dell wrote and designed.

The book, Mommy’s Days, Planning Daily Activities with Infants and Toddlers, was published in 1998 by Heir Press.

Darrell’s illustrations were pencil line-drawings. The book was printed in black & white. I wanted to color it, so I scanned the art and turned it into a vector illustration in Adobe Illustrator.

I created shapes, which I filled with color, then added a gradient to the background in Photoshop.

I love the art and the verse:

Stars shining brightly
Soft snow on the trees
The ornaments of God
All nature can see!

Art for a pillowcase

So much in love with the art, I printed the snowy woodland scene on pillowcases for our grandchildren to color.

Our family likes a calming craft for the children before Christmas dinner. I thought this wonderful verse and snowy woodland scene would make a perfect Christmas craft.

I had the line-drawing printed on pillowcases at a specialty printing shop.

Oops, didn’t think that through

Grandchildren paint pillowcases on Christmas Day
Drew coloring a pillowcase with washable fabric pens.
Grandchildren paint pillowcases before Christmas dinner
Stephanie loves art and working hard
Painting a snow pillowcase on Christmas
You would have to be a surrealist to paint snow anything but white.

Coloring snow is less than a perfect idea. After-all, snow is white. Fortunately, we have creative grandchildren.