Fill the Bird Feeders

pair of Titmouse enjoy a bird bath in the cold winter water
Never too cold for a bath

Cold Days of Autumn and Winter Ahead

Add Bird Seed to Your  Shopping List

I heard the rustle of leaves today coming from outside our patio door. It was rather unexpected, but I am sure it came as no surprise to the birds.

I had grown accustomed to the green leaves and the chirping, basking in the summer sun. Now the leaves are issuing an S.O.S. with their crackling sounds to signal everyone, winter is coming.

As soon as the trees shrug off their lifeless leaves, they will hunker down for winter with their bony branches, making ideal perches for bird watching.

With autumn in the air, Darrell added bird seed to his shopping list. It’s time to show some southern hospitality, and fill the feeders.

We live in an urban/ suburban area and feel honored when birds choose our yard for a winter respite. The titmouse, who grace us with their presence year round, have a greater presence in the winter when they flock together. They put on a winter show when they flutter in the bird bath on icy days.

I’m curious now that fall has arrived as to what birds will befriend us this year when migration goes into full swing.Leaves-49301000px

Prayer for Boston

CandlePrayer2600Honoring the Noble Spirit of Those Who Define Us

At the finish line, where victory is celebrated; instead, loss of life and limb and dashed hope. Bombs set off at the Boston Marathon to threaten, destroy – terrify. A selfish act to destroy another being: innocent victims of hate. Where some give love and compassion, others feed on hate and take from others what they do not have – the joy of life; the striving for excellence.

Spring and all its promise of new beginnings has found mixed within a seed of cruelty, causing us once again to hug each other and weep for strangers.

Lifting up prayers for hearts broken through tragedy. May they find peace and hope and strength in Boston.

Peter Cottontail Toy Cutout

 

PAWPeterRabbitFlowers

Image for Your Projects

Peter Rabbit wind-up toy by Mattel
Cut-out image of Peter Cottontail toy by Mattel

Photograph of a vintage toy by Mattel

Here comes Peter Cottontail … Hopping down the bunny trail … Hippity, Hoppity, Easter’s on its way ...

For my art, I placed a digital image of the toy in the middle of my pansies.

I thought you might like a copy of this image for your scrapping and journal projects. Right click on the image to save a copy (.png) of Peter Cottontail.

This wind-up toy from 1953, played “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” and was produced by Mattel.

Happy Easter!
PAWeaster-egg1

Styling with Monograms – or, What’s in a Name?

Styling a Monogram

Monogram of the letter G with flowers
“G” for Gwendolyn

I heard a style watch for fall forecasting the comeback of monograms. Wanting to be trendy, I decided to design one for my scrap pages and journal notations.
I opened Adobe Illustrator, but found no font to inspire me at my fingertips.
Anxious to show progress quickly, I opened my iPad and turned a “G” doodle into a flower pot.Icon of a curved bar with fringe in blue

Back on my computer, I attempted a preppy style with three initials constrained in a circle, but had mild success. Also, I set my initials in JFRingmaster and warped the text in Illustrator.

Monograms with fancy letters using glymps from my typeface menu
A swish, swash monogram with glymps

For a frilly version of my monogram, I used the Illustrator Glyphs in the type menu to add ligatures for that look of aristocracy.

icon calligraphy with a ball of beadsStriving for a monogram sharpened my eye to typefaces and gave me a greater respect for those geniuses who design them. My latest typeface love is Axiforma from MyFonts. I’m crazy about the font because it comes with many faces, from thick to thin, in regular and italic, so I bought it.

Finally, years ago my hubby had a calligraphy artist pen my name. I scanned the art and outlined it in Illustrator.

Monogram Love

Order and Hierarchy of Initial Monogram

  • Same-size letters in a straight row represent: first, middle, and last initials.
  • Three initials with a large center initial and two smaller initials, on the right and left: large center initial for last name, with first initial to the left and middle initial to the right.
  • A wedding or couple’s monogram is made with a large center initial (their last name), with groom’s first initial on the left and bride’s first initial on the right.
  • Two letters, same size, represent your first and last initials.
  • Stylized single letters represent your first name or your last name.
Block letters from my Art journal

Add monograms to not just identify belongings but to add a personal stamp to your lifestyle. Celebrate your name!

At Starbucks or whenever hubby Darrell needs to give his name at a counter for pickup, he uses his super initials, DW, which alleviates letters and time and rescues the barista from a comedy of errors … “Daryl,” “Darrel,” “Darel” “Darrell”?

Monograms in my future
My monogram initials encircled with a heart reads as my first name and last initial or my initial monogramame or my monogram
Letters read as my initials, paw, or my nickname and last initial, Pat W. – a clever sketch by hubby.

First, I sketch or ink my monograms. And, I have a secret weapon. My husband is an illustrator. He leaves sketches like love notes on my desk when he knows I am working on an idea.

He left a monogram sketch on my desk yesterday of my nickname Pat and my last initial W.

In his usual cleverness, he inter-wove letters, adding an end swash on the W crossing back over the leading edge of the W forming a secondary T, to read both as my initials, PaW, or my nickname Pat W.

Think about your initials. Is there anything unique about the sequence of your letters that would make a distinctive monogram?

Play with the letters in your name, and create a distinctive mark, a custom monogram, all your own.

Re-writable EW monogram on a pillow made with mermaid fabric
Emma draws her monogram initials on a mermaid pillow with reversible sequins

A monogram is a trusty friend…

Learn lettering from gurus famous for copperplate and a myriad of calligraphy styles

Lip-Smack Brush Tutorial

No matter how hard I strive for sophistication in design, my projects take a right turn towards the wild side as did my first journal kit, aptly named Zany.

I had fun creating Zany papers, buttons, brushes, and elements.
My favorite brush is the Lip-Smack Brush, and my favorite element is the pool ball button.
Here’s a preview of my kit, which includes 16 Papers, 20 Elements, and 2 Brushes.

Creating brushes in Adobe Photoshop is a cinch!

  • Slick your lips with a bright lipstick and kiss a piece of paper.
  • Scan the Lip-smack into your computer as a jpeg.
  • Create a black and white copy of the lip-smack. (Optional: I cleaned up the image and removed the white background from the scan so that I had a transparent background for a .png file.)
  • Select the Elliptical or Rectangular Marquee Tool and drag to create a selection around the Lip-smack.
  • With the Lip-smack selected, go to Edit>Define Brush Preset>Name your brush>Click OK.
  • Look for a visual image of the Lip-smack brush at the bottom of your brushes palette. Deselect your Lip-smack image.
  • Now the brush is in your brushes palette whenever you want to seal something with a kiss!

Before you close your image, save the lip-smack as a .png file so you have a brush and a handy image of the lip-smack, ready to put a personal stamp on your projects.

Did you put a frog in the toilet? Asks Hubby

cricket frog or chorus frog that hopped onto the edge of our toilet
A cricket frog came to visit

No, I did not put a frog in the toilet!

A frog sitting comfortably on the commode caused a stir at our house. After my  hubby walked into the bathroom and saw the frog looking up at him, he asked me, “Did you put a frog in the toilet?”  I laughed, of course.

In his wildest imagination, my husband thought I put a frog on the edge of the commode to remind him to put the toilet seat down when finished!

Me placing the frog on the toilet seemed plausible to my husband. What other explanation could there be for a frog, inside our house, sitting on the edge of the toilet.

Of course, Darrell, a passionate wildlife photographer, rushed the frog upstairs to his studio and took a photo of it on his light table. However, the frog was an unwilling subject. He sat like a frozen statue and refused to hop for us.

Commando frog mystery

This cricket frog with its camouflage exterior can sail through the air with each hop. He has suction-cup feet, perfect for gripping a toilet bowl. We had seen him clamped on our windows before, peeping inside, but how did the frog enter our house?

My husband reasons the tiny, one-inch frog came in through the drain hole pipe housing between the basement crawl space and the house interior flooring in the shower. Sure!

I prefer a more glamorous,  big-bang entry: frog leaps into the house by way of the back door and the attached garage.

Darrell grocery shops late at night at Wal-Mart to avoid crowds. He brings the groceries in through the garage, with the garage door open. Frog sees bright light and opportunity.

Frog hops inside, undetected, in the middle of the night when Darrell is more interested in eating a bag of Cheetos, washed down with a can of root beer, than closing doors.

We know Mr. Frog didn’t ring the doorbell and come through the front door. And he hadn’t been leaping around our house prior because we would have noticed him, however diminutive.

I never saw the frog sitting on the commode myself, which would have been funny! Almost as funny as my husband asking, “Did you put a frog in the toilet?”

Mystery solved, in my mind


My  frog-entry theory has promise as proved days later, following another late-night grocery run, when a toad hopped in through the garage door, and I was there to greet him.

illustration of a toad
My favorite toad illustration by hubby, Darrell Wiskur

Toad illustration art by Darrell Wiskur, published in Living Things Change, Stepping Into Science; Regensteiner Publishing Enterprises, 1971; written by Lila Podendorf.

Do You Know the Stories from Uncle Remus?

Uncle Remus Stories by Joel Harris

Book of stories from Uncle Remus
Classic stories from Uncle Remus

From our library and sold on eBay, The Stories from Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris: six classic “Uncle Remus” tales that spell adventure:
–Why Mr. Possum Has No Hair on His Tail
–Mr. Rabbit Meets His Match
–The Wonderful Tar-Baby
–Mr. Wolf Makes a Failure
–Mr. Fox Tackles Old Man Tarrypin
–Old Mr. Rabbit, He’s a Good Fisherman.

uncle-remus-possom-race300

The charming stories by Joel Chandler Harris and their vibrant illustrations date from the 1800s.

It was one of those things we inherited, and inasmuch as I love books and story telling, I only glimpsed the book before selling it for $29 on eBay.

I was glad to hear from the buyer she bought Uncle Remus to read to her grandchildren, a perfect ending to any good book.

Flourish Wheat Icon to divide text

Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Tar-Baby

Here’s how the classic story goes …

Stories from Uncle Remus

Brer Fox was always trying to catch Brer Rabbit; but Brer Rabbit was mighty pert and spry, and he never let Brer Fox catch him. So Brer Fox pretended to be friendly, and asked Brer Rabbit to come to dinner with him. But Brer Rabbit did not come; he knew what was going to be eaten at that dinner. Brer Fox then thought of something else. He went to work and got some tar and some turpentine, and fixed up a thing he called a Tar-Baby. He set up this Tar-Baby by the road near Brer Rabbit’s house, and laid low beneath the bramble-bushes nearby to watch what would happen.

By and by Brer Rabbit came prancing along, lippity-clippity, clippity-lippity, as saucy as a jay-bird. When he saw Tar-Baby he sat up on his legs in astonishment.

“Good-morning,” says Brer Rabbit, very politely and nicely. “Fine weather this morning,” says he.

Tar-Baby said nothing, and Brer Fox he laid low.

“Are you deaf?” said Brer Rabbit. “I can shout if you are.”

And he shouted. But Tar-Baby kept on saying nothing; and Brer Fox he winked his eye slowly, and laid low.

At last Brer Rabbit raised his fist and hit Tar-Baby on the side of her head. And there his fist stuck in the tar, and he couldn’t pull it away.

“Let me go, or I’ll strike you again!” says Brer Rabbit. And he hit out with his other hand, and that stuck on Tar-Baby.

book illustration of Brer Fox, Brer Rabbit, and Tar-Baby
Brer Fox to Brer Rabbit, “You seem rather stuck up this morning.”

Brer Rabbit kicked out angrily with his feet and they got stuck on Tar-Baby. Then he butted her with his head, and his head also got fixed.

“Howdydo?” says Brer Fox, coming out of the bushes, and looking as innocent as a dicky-bird. “You seem rather stuck up, Brer Rabbit, this morning.”

And then Brer Fox rolled about the ground and laughed.

“I expect you’ll come to dinner with me now, Brer Rabbit,” says he. “We’re going to have some nice roast rabbit. You won’t play any more tricks on me. You’re too saucy by far.

“Who asked you to strike up an acquaintance with this Tar-Baby? Now you’re going to have a warm time, as soon as I can get some firewood together.”

Then Brer Rabbit began to talk mighty humble.

“I don’t care what you do with me, Brer Fox,” says he, “so long as you don’t’ fling me on those prickly bramble-bushes.”

“It’s too much trouble to light a fire, says Brer Fox. I’ll have to hang you.”

“Hang me, or drown me?” says Brer Rabbit. “I don’t mind. But for pity’s sake don’t fling me on those prickly bramble-bushes.”

Birds eye view of Uncle Uncle Remus story of Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox and the Tar-Baby
Birds eye view of Brer Rabbit in the Bramble Bushes

But Brer Fox wanted to hurt Brer Rabbit as much as he could, so he took him by the hind legs and pulled him off Tar-Baby, and flung him right into the middle of the prickly bramble-bushes. There was a considerable flutter where Brer Rabbit struck the bushes, and Brer Fox wanted to see what was going to happen. By and by he heard someone calling up the hill, and there he saw Brer Rabbit sitting on a log, combing the tar out of his hair with a chip of wood.

“I was bred and born in a briar bush, Brer Fox—bred and born in it — says Brer Rabbit, with a laugh. And with that he skipped off home as lively as a cricket.

SOURCE: The Human Interest Library, The National Home and School Association, The Midland Press, Chicago, 1922; pp. 346-347

Life Begins at 80!

Life begins at 80 image

Life Begins at 80! Won’t that be grand!

clipping of a column by Frank Charles Laubach on being 80 years old
Frank Laubach writing on the joys of being 80!

I discovered a newspaper clipping from another generation, tucked in a box in our attic. The clipping is yellow with age.

These sage words by writer and columnist Frank Laubach were sealed between two layers of laminate plastic to signal their importance. Reading Laubach’s column is like seeing a rainbow – a gleaming light – at the end of the tunnel.

Life Begins at 80 by Frank Laubach

Birthday cake wishing you a merry 80 years - Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday!

I have good news for you. The first 80 years are the hardest. The second 80 are a succession of birthday parties.
Once you reach 80, everyone wants to carry your baggage and help you up the steps. If you forget your name or anybody’s name, or an appointment, or your own telephone number, or promise to be three places at the same time, or can’t remember how many grandchildren you have, you need only explain that you are 80.
Being 80 is a lot better than being 70. At 70, people are mad at you for everything. At 80, you have a perfect excuse, no matter what you do. If you act foolishly, it’s your second childhood. Everybody is looking for symptoms of softening of the brain.
Being 70 is no fun at all. At that age, they expect you to retire to a house in Florida and complain about your arthritis and you ask everybody to stop mumbling because you can’t understand them. (Actually, your hearing is about 50 percent gone.)
If you survive until you are 80, everybody is surprised you are still alive. They treat you with respect just for having lived so long. Actually, they seem surprised you can walk and talk sensibly.
So please, folks, try to make it to 80. It’s the best time of life. People forgive you for anything. If you ask me, life begins at 80. —Frank Laubach

Chicago columnist Laubach lived to be 85. With tongue in cheek, he substantiates the premise that — at any age — our well-being  is merely a state of mind.

A modern twist on old age by Dr. Brandt – “You know you are old if you are too old for early onset dementia!”

One-Hundred Years is the Frosting on the Cake!

Cartoon in New Yorker, Dec. 11, 1978, on page 57. Caption, My goodness. Is it one hundred years already. By James Mulligan
“My goodness! Is it one-hundred years already?”

Seniors Only

Hubby and I attended a senior’s luncheon in Branson at a community center where luncheons are proceeded with announcements, The Pledge of Allegiance, prayer, and a joke.

Joke of the Day – 
Two duffers were playing golf when an 80-year-old woman streaked across the greens in her birthday suit.

Golfer 1: Did you see that woman?
Golfer 2: Yup!
Golfer 1: What was she wearing?
Golfer 2: Don’t know. Whatever it was, it needs ironing!

After lunch, Darrell and I played a round of golf. A few geese streaked across the greens in their birthday suits

There were goldfish in the pond and the sun was shining. Another lovely day in the Ozarks!

Laugh Out Loud

Trust you have friends who keep you young … friends to laugh-out-loud with, where you double over in laughter at least once a week.
So … I was at a Chamber of Commerce meeting with a speaker from Google, speaking on Web options for small business enterprises.
As in keeping with all professional speakers, she punctuated her remarks with a joke.
Q: What did the fish say when he ran into a wall?
A: Dam.
clown fish with red nose illustrates laugh out loud with friends

Illustration icon of beads and curls for text divider

SOURCE for 100-Years Cartoon: Cartoonist James Mulligan, New Yorker, Dec. 11, 1978; pg. 57 

Kokeshi Dolls Mailed to Canada

Kokeshi lipstick and perfumer
Silver Kokeshi lipstick and perfumer

Silver Kokeshi Lipstick Dolls

Kokeshi dolls, another fun sale on eBay.

Selling a Kokeshi doll lipstick and perfumer brought back memories of our travels to Cabo San Lucas and of Canada, the mailing destination for this sale on eBay.

It’s a small world

Filling out the shipping label to Canada brought back some dubious memories of two Canadian tourists we met in Cabo San Lucas on vacation in 2008.
Darrell and I took an eco-tour with the promise of seeing fossils on the Baja Peninsula. The brochure  had in big letters, Wear hiking boots or other well structured footwear.

When the shuttle stopped to pick-up two Canada tourists who were joining the group tour, they were sporting slip-on, wedge sandals. The tour guide looked disapprovingly at their flimsy footwear as they boarded.

“It’s all the shoes we have,” they said.

So, we fossil hunters were limited on our exploration. We could only hike so high up the mountain before it became too dangerous for the ballet shoes the Canadians were wearing, forcing us to abort our search.

That happening left an altered view in my mind of Canada as a country without hiking shoes or tennis shoes.

Flash forward to 2010 Winter Olympics and Canada

I had another glimpse into the heart of the Canadian people as I sat in front of the TV watching the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. I would have hopped a plane to Canada if I could.

NBC showcased the beautiful country and lifestyle and took viewers on nightly tours of restaurants.

Then I was reminded of Canada’s hospitality after 911 and was ready to sing Oh Canada.

NBC’s Tom Brokaw reported on Gander, Newfoundland, and how they welcomed 7,000 passengers in 2001 when U.S. closed air space over New York following the attack on the Twin Towers.

Now, 9-years later, watching the report and reunions of U.S. citizens with the generous Canadians who welcomed them into their homes in a time of national distress endeared Canada and its people to me.

Kokeshi dolls for the makeup table
Kokeshi dolls for your purse, a lipstick and perfumer

A note regarding the Kokeshi dolls: They are Japanese in origin. The taller one is a lipstick tube and the shorter one a perfumer that holds a lasting, rich perfume scent.

The outer canisters have remarkable craftsmanship, making them mini sculptures of art from a country of artisans.

All tourists aboard – fossil hunting in Cabo

Darrell hunting fossils
Darrell wearing fossil hunting gear
Fossil hunting in Mexico
Our guides referred to their rig as a Mexican limousine
Guide testing a fossil for authenticity
Guide says fossil is real if it sticks to your tongue
Tourist Alvin tests fossil for authenticity
Alvin, an engineer and  tourist from California, found a fossil that stuck to his tongue
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Visit my Made in Japan page on Estate Trinkets & Treasures to see other objects of art, made in Japan.