Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Always study hard in school.

If you are going to beg for money, be creative.

Always give one last twirl in front of the mirror before going out.
(look really close--do you see the smiley face?)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Sometimes a picture is worth more than words. Don't you love this picture. It was an ad for the Australian post office a few years back, if I'm not mistaken. I'm sure I am violating some kind of copyright by placing it here, but I prefer to think of it as a free ad for them. I love the idea that a letter is like a hug.

And, in case Uncle Mike is starting to barf from all the "touchy feely" stuff, here are some more words... check out this site using typography to make portraits.

Hugs to anyone who might need them today...

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I can't believe Stampaway is only a couple of weeks away. I am not in a Stampaway frame of mind at all. At least I'm not teaching and don't have that to worry about! I miss teaching, but don't miss the work involved ahead of time. All I have to do is pack and show up at Gaye's at O-dark-thirty on the appointed day.

What I am excited about is the longest yard sale... I can't believe I'm thinking more about that than the convention! For those of you driving to Cincinnati, if you are interested in taking in at least a small part of the yard sale, you might consider making a stop in Covington, Kentucky. Off I-71, take the 5th Street exit, drive a few blocks to Main Street, then try to find parking in that area. Sixth Street is divided, with trees up and down the street, and lots and lots of tables set up everywhere. You can get in some good shopping just in that area, as much or as little as you want. Last year, there was a guy selling costume jewelry. I got some old metal mesh bracelets and some very interesting old pens which I'm hoping to use in books later.

And a few years ago, that area is also where Gaye and I found the infamous Leather Keyholes. Very Cool!!!

Last year, I also bought a grocery bag full of Barbies without heads. The seller did not ask me why I wanted Barbies with no heads, and I did not ask why they had a bunch of headless Barbies. The world is like that sometimes.....

Here's hoping for more of this global cooling we've been having!

See you in Cincinnati...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Queen of Postage

Playing around with postage stamp...

Here are the actual King and Queen stamps released not long ago....

More fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fewer Words

Still making paste paper (thanks, Connie, for sending me home with paste)....

I'd like to make at least 2 to 3 times more pages than this, then bind in a book.... but since I'm pasting front and back of the paper, I need bigger chunks of time.....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Houston, We Have a Mansion

----I know, I know... some were surprised that I am a space geek. Actually, there are so many things in life that interest me, I can't keep up with them. And the older I get, the more things there are.

----I don't remember when I was first interested in the whole space thing... further back than I can remember. Back in my married days, we moved a lot. Every couple of years in fact. That's how you got ahead in my husband's company at the time, by transferring to another of their facilities. For me, each new place meant a new job, which was not always a bad thing. Sure, it's stressful moving, and very stressful going on job interviews. But looking back, I had some great opportunities, and also lived some places I might have missed out on otherwise.

----One of my favorite places was the Houston area. We lived midway between Houston and Galveston. Here's my house--

Nooooooooo... not really! This is what is referred to historically as the West Mansion, built in the 1920s by James West, an oil/lumbar/cattle baron. If you drive past the Johnson Space Center, it sits on a large expanse of land, facing the breezes of Clear Lake, and the Gulf of Mexico beyond that, with moss hanging from the giant oak trees, swaying in the breeze. It was very ornate inside, with lots of imported tile, gold fixtures in the bathrooms, marble, and hand painted ceilling beams. It had a swimming pool, a tennis court with gazebos at each side, a sunken garden and a reflecting pool lined with blue tiles. It had a solarium which doubled as a children's play room and also an art gallery. It was built in a time when most people were recovering from the Depression, but rumor had it Mr. West had his money hidden, not in banks, and so was able to build this opulent 17,000 square foot summer home.

----The house was vacant for 15 years after Mr. West's death in 1941, then was eventually deeded to Rice University to be used for scientific purposes. It eventually became a planetary research center where NASA scientists and other scientists from all over the world came to study moon rocks and other planetary findings. The bedrooms were converted to offices, the solarium converted to a conference room. There was a multi-car garage (or carriage house) a short distance from the home. The upstairs became the offices of the graphics department. Further back on the property, there was a large stable. This became the Imaging Center, and housed copies of every image that had ever been sent back from space, from Apollo missions to later shuttle flights.

----There was a large "sleeping porch" on one end of the house (see photo below--second floor left side). When the West family lived there, they would sleep in this area on hot nights where the breezes would keep them cooler. This later became the Publications Office, where manuscripts were edited and published, papers reviewed and assembled, conferences planned. And that was where I found a job in 1986, in the office in the "sleeping porch".

That has to be one of my all time favorite jobs, in what was back then a very exciting industry. I met so many nice people, and once even met Buzz Aldrin at a conference. Well, not "met", but I was sitting next to someone who gave him his registration packet... does that count? I kept trying to see his ring. I had heard so much about the ring he wears. It is on his right hand, and the gold band wraps around from the back but does not quite meet in the middle on the front, with a sliver of golden moon on one side, and a diamond in a star on the other side. I saw him in interviews on TV over the last couple of days, and he was wearing that ring. But I'm still trying to get a good look at it!

----So, that's how I came to have an even deeper interest in this field. I was editing and typing research papers that contained words I never heard of before and scientific data that is way beyond my comprehension. And to put this in perspective of how far we have come since the 80s, the scientists used to mail us their papers that they had typed and printed. We edited them, then re-typed them for publication. Can you imagine? How far we have come! I'm sure these days, they zip those suckers along the fiberoptic internet lines, no re-typing required!

----I looked on Google Earth once to see what the mansion looks like now. Not long after I moved away, the organization moved to a nice new office building, so I knew the mansion had been vacant. When I went to street view on Google Earth, I was sad to see a giant for sale sign there. After some research, I learned that a real estate company (one of whose partners is Hakeem Olajuwon, the retired NBA player in Houston) wanted to tear down the mansion and develop the land. A charitable organization then sprang up to try to rescue it and turn it into a meeting place, possibly a bed and breakfast, or anything to save it. Its fate remains uncertain at this time. It has survived hurricanes, vandals, and all manner of critters I'm sure (I frequently saw armadillos in the yard, and once saw a mom with baby armadillos.) It would be a shame to see it torn down for condos.

----Somewhere I have a few pictures I took before we moved away, but I have searched and searched and can't find them. I checked online to see if I could find some pictures. While looking, I came across a video. This might not be of interest to anyone but me, but I really enjoyed seeing it. If you want to see more of the interior, both the architectural details and also the sad state of disrepair, you might enjoy this video. At about the 4:30 mark, there is a picture of an empty sleeping porch. It sure looked bigger when I was there, and it's hard to believe that back then it held 4 desks. Right after the 6:00 mark, there is one of my favorite rooms...the blue and gold bathroom. The first time I saw the dark blue sink, I wanted one. The blue and yellow hand made tiles from Tunisia didn't impress me as much, but I sure loved that blue sink! There is at least one good shot of the giant mahogany beams in the living room. I guess because they are out of reach, they have escaped the vandals over the years. Mr. West had local craftsmen hand paint the beams with representations from Music, Art, Astronomy, and Mathematics. There are some great shots of the grounds too. The apartments off to one side weren't there when I worked there, so already "progress" is marching silently toward the old mansion.

----Enjoy the video if you have about 10 minutes to spare. If nothing else, there is nice soothing music from Enya and Nora Jones!
----Live long and prosper! (And I'll try not to be so wordy next time!)

Monday, July 20, 2009

One Small Step

It's a great time to be a space geek. If you are not into space geekiness, you might want to skip this post. First, we have the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing today. I am one of the millions who remembers sitting in front of a black and white television watching those grainy pictures of the first step on the moon. Couldn't exactly make out what was on the screen, but it was exciting. There is a great web site that has been playing live audio from the Apollo 11 mission. It is real time, so there are long stretches of nothing but static and silence. It took three days to reach the moon. Try sitting in your bathtub for three days without moving around and see how you do! I would love to experience space travel, but they have to improve the mode of transportation a lot before that happens for me! Anyway, the site to listen in real time and see some great info is here.
There is currently an orbiter circling the moon, analyzing the surface. Some of the first pictures have focused on past moon landings to see if the lunar modules are still there (um...where else would they be?)... you can see those pictures here.
I have some of the 25th moonwalk anniversary stamps that have actually flow in space back in 1994. They flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which coincidentally is at this very minute up in space again, this time docked to the International Space Station with a record number of people aboard the combined station/shuttle configuration. And now I see on the news that one of the space station toilets is stopped up. Doesn't that always happen when you have too much company that stays too long?
Any time there is a shuttle up, I will be watching. While I am busy on my work computer, I often have my home computer on the shuttle missions here. The shuttle goes through several day/night phases during a 24-hour period. But when they are in the daylight, I think there is nothing more beautiful than looking at the earth from space. It is my favorite real time screen saver!
Happy Moon Landing Anniversary!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

All Lined Up

Sometimes I like things to be really orderly. When I'm deep in an art project, I work best with chaos and deadlines. Maybe I have a split personality. I like to think I'm just multifaceted.

I do have some kind of obsessive need to make charts and graphs, to line things up

Like the cigar labels above.....

I bought a box of art supplies at a yard sale for $5. Included in the box were a bunch of tubes of watercolor paint. I have plenty of watercolor paint. But not that brand. So I had to mix some up and see what it looked like. And if I'm testing it on hot press paper, might as well test it on cold press paper while I have everything all mixed up. Of course, it looks no different than all the other watercolors I have. But seeing colors all lined up was my Happy for the day.
Last year, I got a new crown punch. I sat and punched crowns from magazine ads. Shame to just throw them out. Might as well line them all up on a page!

This is a book I made a couple of years ago, with the signatures sewn on Tyvek strips. I call it the fuzzy book. That's because only After I made the book did I realize the black paper I used on the cover sheds like crazy, leaving black fuzz everywhere. Not only that, but I somehow got the sewing all wonky, and it is very crooked (not as obvious in the picture as it is in person). I'm not about to let a handmade book go to waste. I have been using it as a sample book for some of my paints (mostly Jacquard). If I have no time to play on anything else, just painting out color charts does it for me in a pinch!!

Go find your Happy for the day......

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Paste-y Girls

What lurks in Connie's basement???

Lots of paste paper. What a fun morning at Connie Newbanks' house, where she hosted a paste paper play day. It's been a long time since I made paste paper, and I was happy to get a chance to replenish my stash! And of course it's even more fun when you get to make the mess at someone else's house!

This was a piece done with a large stencil under the paper (this might be Paula's, but I'm not sure).

This is one of Gaye's, done with a Coffee Break number stencil under the paper.

The rest are just random pieces of mine.

Thanks again for all the fun, Connie!!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

aRt sTuff

Art stuff... we need it, we have it, we need to organize it. Don't you love this sign? It can be lighted from the back.

It can be backed with colored vellum and be psychedelic!

Last year in August, after we attended Stampaway, Gaye and I took the long way home and hit part of the World's Longest Yard Sale. It starts in northern Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, and goes through Kentucky, Tennessee, and into Alabama--654 miles of hidden bargains and treasures. I never much liked yard sales. When I did go, I always seems to find a lot of baby clothes and hand made potholders. That was before I met a professional yard sale person! It really pays to follow one of these rare breeds around. They know without getting out of the car if it is worth stopping. They can spot something cool from a distance. And sometimes I think they have x-ray vision, and can see through a closed cardboard box under a table.

So, last year, one of the cool finds was the letters that spell "art". They look like they went on a lighted sign in their former life. And they just fit in the slotted picture holder I got a long time ago. The wooden base has a slot for pictures and has a second slot for specially made aluminum letters that slide in. The letters have since been discontinued, so don't ask!

My sign is perched atop a cabinet I bought a couple of years ago. The outside of the cabinet is an old orange crate. The drawers (35 in all) are wooden cheese boxes. I don't know how old it is, but when is the last time you bought cheese that came in a wooden box, not a cardboard box? I have slowly been adding different knobs. I have more knobs, but have an issue with finding the right screws. I am also slowly trying to figure out what to put in the drawers. I'm almost ready to call it the Coffee Break cabinet. The drawers are perfect for holding test tubes, lucite hands, people buttons, etc. It takes me forever, but I do have hopes of one day having everything where I want it, ready and useable!

The knob on the left is one of those "I wonder" things... "I wonder what it would look like if I put fabric on here with a rubber band..."

Enough art stuff... time for work stuff....

Addendum: I stand corrected. I just checked the web site of the Longest Yard Sale, and it actually starts in West Unity, Ohio. Their web site also says that HGTV is looking for people attending this year, to compete against each other in shopping. Game on! (just kidding)

Monday, July 6, 2009

This is for...

...well, he'll know...

Royal Order of the Nunnery Rose

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Busy July

No time to post... I'm busy cleaning....

no, really... I'm cleaning and organizing.

I'm not making flowers.

Nope, not me.............

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Restless Brain Syndrome

I don't know if there is such a thing as restless brain syndrome, but if there is, I have it. It's like restless leg syndrome, but in my head. Sometimes my mind is going in a hundred different directions wanting to do things, if only I had the time for all of it. It started with paper flowers. I first saw them on the Rag and Bone blog (listed on the side, see their April archives). I really wanted to make some but never got around to it. Then I saw on Ginny's blog that she made some, and it renewed my interest. (They look very cool with that map paper!) I finally did make some in the past couple of days, using pages from a book printed in German.

Then I noticed something. Remember the memo cubes I talked about? They looked like they had flower stems. If only I could plant my paper flowers on those memo cubes.

So, I played around with different ideas, and finally simply used black wire. I poked one end into the back of the flower, and used a smaller piece of wire to wrap the flower stem to the memo cube "stem". Then I thought the flower would look even better with a bead of some kind on the end of the wire that came out through the center of the flower. When I was rummaging for some beads, I came across the typewriter keys brads with prongs on the back. They are not even attached to the flowers, I just jabbed them into the center. The prongs went in between the folds of the paper, and everything held together.

Now I am resting my brain for awhile after growing a crop of paper flowers...

(The Rag & Bone blog has 3 links to instructions for making the flowers. I used the instructions at Folding Trees.)