Blogging the Infinite Static


Wed 13 Nov 2019... Write For Rights

(Sorry about the non entries of the last couple days. Just lost my mojo, temporarily.)

December 2011, I discovered Amnesty International's Write For Rights campaign. I became an Urgent Action writer for AI after that, but the Write For Rights holds a special place in my heart!

Writing for AI is all about sending letters of protest to governments or authorities. The major difference between UA writing and W4R writing is the letters of solidarity! This is the part that I really love!

Sending a card for support to the person who is in trouble -- maybe they are in jail for their human rights activities, or maybe a family is waiting word from someone who has been disappeared -- makes all the difference in the world.

The letters of protest are easy too... if you go to the Write For Rights page and scroll down to the half way point, it says "Now, Write a Letter". Just under that is the yellow bar to download a PDF of the ten cases this year.

That PDF includes the address and sample text for each letter of protest. And then has more information and how to send your message of support. Some of these are messages on social media, some are a forwarding address kept by Amnesty International.

I like to send my handmade cards based on my photography... Even better when I can match info from AI with one of my photos! For instance, Marinel Ubaldo loves nature, so I'll be sending her one of my chipmunks! :)

P.S. If you live in the UK, please check out Amnesty International, UK because there are a couple different cases you can write for: Migrant Women and Young Trans People. Both VERY important!!

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Mon 11 Nov 2019... Walking

(Today I walked 5 miles for the first time!)

(Exercise is good.)

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Sun 10 Nov 2019... Reading

(Today I read my book all afternoon and all evening!)

(It's great sci fi.)

Semiosis by Sue Burke

Semiosis is any form of activity, conduct, or process that involves signs, including the production of meaning. A sign is anything that communicates a meaning, that is not the sign itself, to the interpreter of the sign. The meaning can be intentional such as a word uttered with a specific meaning, or unintentional, such as a symptom being a sign of a particular medical condition. Signs can communicate through any of the senses, visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or taste.

~ Wikipedia

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Sat 9 Nov 2019... Forest Restoration

One of the trail junctions in the middle of the forest at my favorite local hiking spot, has had signs up during the summer. They would be doing forest restoration there. And finally they have.

I recognized a couple of the shrubs they planted in the area. Snow Berry, which is common in large patches all across the hills...

Forest Restoration, Snow Berry

And Oregon Grape, which is also the state flower. :) The leaves look like holly...

Oregon Grape

And then the ones I don't know yet:

unknown Forest Restoration plant

unknown Forest Restoration plant

and then there were several cages which just contained some sticks! I suppose the deers or the bunnies like to munch on whatever is in there! I'll have to wait and see what develops in the spring.

Forest Restoration area

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Fri 8 Nov 2019... day of chipmunks

Sometimes when I go out in the forest, there is no wildlife to be found. I thought today was going to be one of those days and I started taking photos of the plants. Which is just as good, but not as exciting. :)

But I walked up Oak Knoll, this trail always has somebody cute to photograph! If only a single Song Sparrow. Today there were chipmunks everywhere!

chipmunk on a branch

There are 5 or 6 species of chipmunks who live in our area, and there isn't any way for an amateur to identify them. bummer.

This one is looking pretty round.

Chipmunks do hibernate, tho not in the bear way. Chipmunks wake up every couple days to munch on the nuts they have stored in their hidey hole.

I'm not sure if they hibernate here tho... since we have mild winters, they might stay active thru the season. More direct research, forthcoming!

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Thurs 7 Nov 2019... Drawing Project

I have been making ATC sized sketches almost every day for just over 7 weeks now, and I just started filling my fifth 9-pocket card protector. I began this project on 16 Sept which means (math: 7.5 weeks is 52 days, and with 37 drawings is 70%) I've been drawing about 5 ATCs per week!

*** Sorry about all the numbers there. Here's where we actually begin! :D ***

Of course the surprising thing is... I'm still at it! And you know what else I'm still doing?! The daily blog!

The two projects kind of lend themselves to each other... I've been better about going thru my photos every day, since I usually like to have a pic here. Which means I also check my photos for the printable ones, and I will do test prints of the borderline photos. And when I have extra photos laying around, I can grab one to sketch it!

I like looking at other people's work space, so here is mine today:

my workspace

Yep this is where I write my postcards and notecards, you can see a few stamps in the background.

And yep, I work on the floor. I really like to spread out when I'm working, and a big desk would not fit in our tiny townhouse.

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Wed 6 Nov 2019... Leaves

I was going thru my October photos, looking for some Autumn Leaves for a Swap-Bot swap I'm in. Yeah, I do take some pics of leaves... I love the colours or I love the shapes! And I just love leaves in general.

Here's some fern fronds that really caught my eye...

Fern closeup

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Tues 5 Nov 2019... Song Sparrows

Song Sparrow

Just a photo that makes me really happy. Song Sparrows always put a smile on my face and in my heart!

I am not sure when I started taking notice of Song Sparrows. But a photo I took in December of 2016 has become a significant one... I am still sending that one out as a postcard to welcome new members at my GoodReads group!

Song Sparrows have a lovely song, of course! And since they live here all year, I usually hear them every time I go for a walk. Madge Madge Madge, put on your tea kettle ettle ettle is how my Audubon field guide has it, which kind of captures the rhythm of it.

But it's their contact call that I pay attention to most of all. Jeep. Jeep. Jeep. And they are probably bouncing around in the under story, so don't look up!

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Mon 4 Nov 2019... More Ducks

Still trying to get interested in ducks. And it is nice that they aren't all Mallards! Mallards are fine, but when that's all you've got to look at, they are boring! :)

Wandering thru the Delta Ponds today, I saw the both the ducks I had identified here... Coots! and, shoot, I couldn't remember the Wigeon. I think I need a bit of interesting information to go with the duck to help me recall their species. For instance: Coots aren't real ducks.

For Wigeons, hmm. There is an American Wigeon and a European Wigeon. And sometimes a European is found hanging out with the Americans, and sometimes an American is found hanging out with the Europeans. That has a nice balance to it.

Here are a couple new ones I found today... A Northern Shoveler with a funny looking bill:

Northern Shoveler

And a Pied-billed Grebe, cute little face, but no tail!

Pied-billed Grebe

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Sun 3 nov 2019... brr

Frost on Columbine leaves

Frost on my Columbine. It is really not supposed to be this cold. It's supposed to be well above freezing.

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Sat 2 Nov 2019... Houseplants

I got a pleasant surprise when I opened the back blinds this morning to let in some sunshine... one of my African Violets is blooming!

African Violets

This is a clone of one of my Grandma's plants... she had loads sitting on the dryer in the kitchen.

I don't take care of my houseplants very well. Fortunately, African Violets thrive on neglect! ha.

I've got a few houseplants that have survived my haphazard care... Spider Plant, Chinese Evergreen, two different Pothos, an Umbrella plant, a Peace Lily and a Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia, but I never remember how to pronounce it!). Oh, and a couple of Begonia cuttings.

All of these plants were given to me by family or work buddies!

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Fri 1 Nov 2019... Poetry

The last book I read was a science fiction novel, A Memory Called Empire [it was okay, not great] and poetry was an important part of the culture. The people there memorized long poems in school and poetry contests were part of every day conversation as well as national entertainment.

Today I started re-reading a book. I read and enjoyed A Tale for the Time Being in 2013. [I rated it 5 out of 5 stars.] I've just been thinking about it lately for some reason. It's got a little bit of poetry, but the story is written so well it almost reads like poetry itself.

I'm not really a poetry person. I like things to be straight forward, and sometimes when I encounter a poem in a book I don't want to take the time to figure it out... or even read it. yep, sometimes I just skip it!

ha! Shameful I know.

But reading Empire, I wondered why I was never forced to memorize a poem in school. My partner can recite parts of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. But me? I know a few one-liners: Quoth the Raven Nevermore, and Hope is the thing with feathers, and Oh, the Thinks You can Think! :)

And I wonder. Maybe I'm impoverished. Maybe I should find a poem to memorize.

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Thurs 31 Oct 2019... Happy Halloween!

two spider webs

Looks a bit like a monster's face, doesn't it?! :D

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Tues 29 Oct 2019... Health Care for Halloween

I have not talked about it openly here, yet, but I'm a huge advocate for reproductive justice, Planned Parenthood, birth control and abortion.

So I was absolutely delighted when I saw Mama Doctor Jones put out a YouTube of her Halloween costume... She's going as a uterus with a copper IUD!!

ObGyn makes DIY Feminist IUD

It is so brilliant... and she's got her overies on her wrists!!

It's a 12½ minute video, but she shows flashes of herself in the costume at the beginning, if you don't have time to watch the whole thing.

Anyway, it made me laugh. :)

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Sun 27 Oct 2019... Ducks

I am very interested in all the new, unidentified song birds I come across in my wanderings. I try to take as many pics as I can, even blurry pics are fine when I don't know who I'm looking at. And I try to Look as well as photograph and note any behavior that will help.

And when I'm home, the field guides come out! The blurry photos are studied and maybe I consult All About Birds, Cornell. And the little bird is figured out and my happy knowledge has been increased!

Not so much with ducks, tho. I just don't care as much, for whatever reason.

So every time I visit the Delta Ponds, and I see those somewhat cute little dark grey ducks, with the black heads... They've got a funny looking face, and are instantly recognizable because of their constant diving... And I don't know what species they are!

American Coot

American Coot! All About Birds says Coots aren't actually ducks! They don't have webbed feet and are related to Sandhill Cranes. Very interesting!

And the American Wigeon...

American Wigeon

A winter visitor in our area.

And that's interesting because Hooded Mergansers and Green-Winged Teals are also winter visitors and today was the first time I'd seen them this season!

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Sat 26 Oct 2019... Garden Birds

I love this time of year at the garden... autumn brings all kinds of birds to munch on stuff that's gone to seed. But there are also interesting new birds that are migrating thru!

A House Finch, in his winter waning red glory...

house finch

And a Junco with... I don't know what this red-violet plant is, but it apparently self-seeds and grows freely across the community garden. The birds love it, and I want it for my own garden plot. If only I knew what it was!

black eyed junco

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Fri 25 oct 2019... The Garden Experiment

I brought home a couple leeks from the garden today.

I hate onions, but I really like leeks. We don't grow leeks at the garden very often. Because I don't remember how much I like leeks!

Leeks are great in soup... I slow cook some barley and lentils and chop up the leeks with some celery and carrots. Yum. But it's good to throw leeks in when you cook up pasta or rice, too!

I should grow more leeks. That's one plant that is easy to grow because the slugs won't munch on them! And then, they don't mind the cold, so they can stay in the ground in the autumn until you're ready to eat them.

Anyway. I try to experiment with something new every year and this past year's experiment was Fennel. I'd never grown or eaten it before.

So, Fennel? thumbs up and thumbs down! haha!

I do like the leaves, they are wonderful just to munch on when wandering thru the garden. Very refreshing! and they're good in salad, but you have to add quite a bit to actually taste it. A happy bonus: the guinea pigs also like to eat the leaves! :)

But Fennel root? meh. You can treat it like celery, but when I nuked it with my pasta there were always tough parts that made it yucky. I didn't cook it enough to figure out how to remove the potiential tough parts.

and I didn't cook it enough because it wasn't tasty enough to bother!

I left 3 fennels to go to seed in the garden... it's supposed to self-seed easily. And we shall see what I do with the results next year. Maybe the piggies will like the root more than I do?

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Thurs 24 Oct 2019... Foggy Birds

I've really been hoping to catch a Black and Orange bird to use as my October postcard... I saw both the prime candidates yesterday, but the heavy fog made the ambient too dark for the camera.

A Towhee...

Spotted Towhee

And a Varied Thrush...

Varied Thrush

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Wed 23 Oct 2019... Trees and Fog and Light

I went for a hike at my favorite place here in town. Hendricks Park was up in the clouds! Not much wildlife was out...

... but the trees are actually quite lovely.

~ Westley to Buttercup at the Fire Swamp

Oak tree branches in fog

trees in fog

sunshine breaking thru the fog and trees

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Mon 21 Oct 2019... Sudoku and word games

I enjoy doing sudoku. My local newspaper carries it every day except sunday, with monday being easy and the puzzles getting progressively harder thru the week.

Monday is so easy in fact, that I handicap myself by not making any marks. Still, it only takes me 5 minutes. Tuesday I only make outside marks, and it takes a little longer.

Wed and Thurs, I use marks and it takes 15 or 20 minutes to finish. Fri and Sat... ha, sometimes I abandon these because I'll get stuck and it's taking too long to find the one little thing that will tip the puzzle over so it will fall like dominoes! When I do finish these, it can take 30 or 40 minutes.

Occasionally I will screw up. It's mostly about going too fast because I'm timing myself, and not noticing that there are two 5s in the same row! arg. Sometimes I notice relatively quickly and I can back track and finish. Other times I abandon.

I also try my hand at the crossword, but I'm terrible at it. For instance, in today's crossword, I got 4 words. yeah.

I wish I were better with words! But so often when I have to think of a word, my mind just shuts down.

You know that game Scattergories? You get a letter and you have to think up words starting with the letter for like 12 categories. Girl Names. Kitchen Devices. You know?

Scattergories icon

I effing hate that game. I can usually fill out 1 or 2 of the 12 blanks, maybe 3 or 4 if I'm very lucky. And my brother fills out all of them. And he even argues passionately about his questionable answers! It would be funny -- how bad I lose and how brilliant he wins -- except I take it so seriously!

I don't know why. Probably because I always have such high hopes when we start playing. This Time I'll be able to fill in a respectable amount of blanks! But it never happens.

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Sun 20 Oct 2019... Chickadees

I love Chickadees! But 99% of the time, I ignore them.

I hear their little chicka dee dee dees every time I go outside. They are named for their alarm call... The more dees they add, the more dangerous the situation. A Human on the bike path might get 2 or 3 dees, but a prowling cat gets a long line of dees.

I listen to their dees. Chickadees say a lot about the environment, after all. But I don't try to find them. And I certainly don't bother to turn on the camera for them.

They are impossible to take pictures of! They bounce around way too quickly and the camera won't focus fast enough. I've tried. Lord, how I've tried. And that's why I ignore them now!

But today... I was actually trying to take portraits of a couple of Downy Woodpeckers. And some Chickadees got in the way.

haha, not really.

Chickadee

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Sat 19 Oct 2019... photos

I was going thru my photos today, picking some out for a swap I'm in.

I really need to do this more often... to pick out the better ones. And to see if any are print quality. And to just remember all the cool things I get to see!

House Finch and Tree Sparrow

A House Finch and Tree Sparrow in the rain.

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Fri 18 Oct 2019... Cover Crop

After three weeks of very hard work at the garden, I've finally got most of the plot Weeded and Seeded!

Actually, it was a bit of a surprise to finish this morning. While I had started out working 5x5foot (1.5 x 1.5 meter) sections, the soil towards the back of the plot was not as easy to work with. The past week or so I've only been able to finish 3x3 sections.

But when I saw how close I was, I just kept going. My back was in spasms and I was getting a blister on my thumb... but I kept going! ha.

And it's only a month late. Yeah. You're supposed to have your cover crop planted a month before the first frost date. So all this should have been done on 15 Sept. eh.

No worries, baby clovers are being born!

Clover Seedlings

heh, along with baby weeds of all types.

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Thurs 17 Oct 2019... Jays

I got a bird postcard in the mail today.

Eurasian Jay

I had never seen this bird before and I had all kinds of questions! ha! I studied the picture carefully...

Definitely a Jay. That face, that look? Definitely.

I flipped the postcard over and had to search for the info. Almost obscured by some happy bird washi tape :) but I didn't have to peel anything up to read it... Eurasian Jay.

How beautiful! And I'm sure they are just as bold and obnoxious as the Jays in the US!

Blue Jays are well known to the East of the Rockies in the United States. On the Western side, we have Scrub Jays and Stellar Jays, both of which are also blue (and frequently get called "blue" jays by normal people). (ha!)

Scrub Jay

Jays are beautiful and interesting. They are always yelling about something. And they love peanuts in the shell... people feed them and this time of year all the Scrub Jays are holding one, to be buried in an undisclosed location! :)

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Wed 16 Oct 2019... birds

I was walking home from the Community Garden this morning, and there were three Vs of Canada Geese flying towards me. The first V was the smallest, and I counted one arm. About 20. The second V was bigger, maybe 30 or 35 on an arm.

The last V wasn't a V anymore because the Geese were changing places and moving around. It was a long line, with little jags coming off it. 80 or 100 Geese?

I'm not sure, but I stopped walking to watch them fly by.

And all of a sudden, I'm almost crying.

Here I am, in awe of a couple hundred birds. When 200 years ago there were so many Passenger Pigeons that they darkened the sky when they flew by. How many gajillions of birds does it take for that to happen?

Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, died in captivity on 1 Sept 1914.

And North America has lost more than 1 in 4 Birds in the Last 50 Years, a net loss approaching 3 billion birds, or 29% of 1970 abundance. Fifty years.

It's the same with bugs. Plummeting Insect Numbers 'Threaten Collapse of Nature' insect abundance (as measured by biomass) had declined by more than 75 percent within 63 protected areas in Germany—over the course of just 27 years.

Humans are killing everybody.

And I'll cry, watching them cut down our sick trees. And I'll cry for the dead squirrel at the side of the road. And I'll cry for the curled up mouse on the path, killed with poison. And I'll cry for the raccoon mama with her infected hand, and I'll cry for her teenage kids who are wandering around without her a week or so later, looking pathetic and skinny.

I don't tell these stories, because who wants depressing?

But this is what we are doing. And we should face it every once in a while.

Geese flying overhead

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Tues 15 Oct 2019... Deer Zoomies

(Continued from Saturday's post...)

Blurry pic of the deers doing zoomies, but I'm amazed that I got all three in the same frame! They are totally having fun!

three mule deers, two running one standing

haha! Once they calmed down, I did take a couple decent photos. Here's another fun one...

squirrel behind a tree and a deer looking towards him

I have no idea why the squirrel is using the tree to hide from the doe, instead of hiding from me! And the deer is obviously wondering the same thing!!

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Mon 14 Oct 2019... reading

I skipped the blog post on Sunday... I had started a good book on Friday, and by Sunday afternoon I was deep into it. I just didn't stop reading until it was done. And then it was bed time! :)

Isn't it awesome when you find a book like that?!

This one was The Book of Flora which is the third book in the series which began with The Book of the Unnamed Midwife.

I wondered when I started reading it, if I needed to re-read books 1 and 2. I should have, but I kept reading #3 anyway! Ha, it's funny how long it took me to remember who the main character was, from book 2!! *laughs*

I'm re-reading book 2 right now, and it's fascinating how well the stories in book 2 and book 3 fit together... the author must have been working on them together. Which delights me and makes me jealous: I can't even figure out what I'm going to do tomorrow, and the author has all these characters' lives laid out in detail.

illustration of an open book

But that's the great thing about reading, huh? All those other lives, other adventures, other worlds. The magic of... differences!


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Sat 12 Oct 2019... Hike

Oh my gosh, I had such a great hike this morning!

I got there and headed to the Rhododendron Garden... and just across the way there's a deer Running! They quickly disappear behind trees and I'm left wondering what in the world scared the deer so much in this park. a human with a big dog??

haha. nope! The deer comes bouncing back! She sprints this way and that. And, oh, here comes another deer! And another. And... how many are there anyway? The three or four are all bouncing around and acting like it's silly time.

I laughed out loud watching them! They noticed me, but didn't invite me to play. heh. But they did let me walk up to them pretty close. :)

I haven't looked at my photos yet.... I'm nervous that there won't be any good pics.

drawing of a deers face

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Fri 11 October 2019... Drawing Project

I've shown you a few of my August Daily Doodles, where I was drawing on a calender page. I took a little break from drawing, but then mid-September I started some ATC sized drawings. It's not been daily, but it's part of my routine now.

The August Doodles were on a sheet of matte photo paper. I chose that because I knew I would be using my Copic markers, and the colours really pop on that paper! Unfortunately, I discovered it is quite impossible to use an eraser on photo paper... it smears and leaves ugly marks. I tried all my different erasers: gum, vinyl, that grey kneaded thing, a black one. All the same crappy result. Bleh!

I had cut up a page of photo paper for my first few ATCs as well. But then I remembered I had a little stash of X-PressIt Blending Card left over from work. So I cut a page of it up for my next batch of ATCs... oh my, it erases beautifully!

But, since I'd been using the Copics on the other paper for so long... the new paper felt and looked odd. So the past week or so I've not been colouring my drawings. But I've been getting good practice with shading and markings with pencil.

ATC Drawing of a Great Blue Heron
ATC Drawing of a Goldfinch on a Sunflower

I've been using my own photos for reference... yeah, you might recognize that Goldfinch from the 3 Oct post!

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Thurs 10 Oct 2019... Climate Change

Another cold morning, but it just makes me appreciate the hot shower even more!

The hot shower is one of those "every day" type things that I absolutely treasure. It's going to be the one thing that I'll reeeally miss when civilization crashes. If I survive.

Yep, I'm a Doomer! I believe civilization will crash within my lifetime! And it'll probably be climate change that does the trick.

PostCrossing Blog: October Writing Prompt

In October, write about the impacts of climate change in your region or country.

Eugene is about 60miles (100km) from the Pacific Ocean, so we will not have to deal directly with the sea level rising.

Excessive rain may bring local flooding. Our home is a little ways up a hill, so that's good. But there may be landslides coming down on us from further up the hill.

The trend for our area is less and less rainfall. And hotter summers. Which is a major bummer for our trees.

Our Douglas Firs are slowly dying, from the warmer summers. The same with our lovely Big Leaf Maples.

Our Oak trees are sick as well... in fact, they cut down two from our apartment parking lot today. That was a depressing thing to watch. Now, instead of happy leaf shadows, the sun pounds down.

And then there's the bark beetles, killing our drought stressed pine trees.

Basically, our temperate rain forests are done. And we are just noticing the beginning of the end.

autumn leaves

Happy Autumn Leaves.

Oh, except... you see the brown on the pine tree? Yep. Dying.

Sighs... You know, hot showers aside, I also really like oxygen. I suppose we'll have to get along without it.

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Wed 9 Oct 2019... Walk and RSS

Pretty chilly this morning and I bundled up for my walk! And you never know who you are going to run into when the seasons are changing...

A Mink!

a Mink

Unfortunately a very blurry mink. I didn't get any good photos. What else is new.

And then one of our winter visitors, a Golden Crowned Sparrow...

Golden Crowned Sparrow I do like sparrows, "little brown birds".

And yeah, it suddenly occurred to me that I should probably be marking my photos. Because it's the Internet, you know. :)

Oh, and while I was not posting real stuff on Monday and Tuesday, I was actually doing blog stuff... The RSS feed now works again. Yay!

What's that? You don't care about RSS? Yeah, I don't know why RSS isn't more popular. But if you read blogs that update randomly (*waves hand*) and if you don't like advertising (*waves hand*) you should check out RSS feed readers!

I'm using The Old Reader. It's free, with a paid premium version.

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Tues 8 Oct 2019... nothin' part 2

illustration of Sun Gold Cherry tomatoes and a Great Blue Heron

What? Again?!

Sheesh.


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Mon 7 Oct 2019... Nothin'

um. It's monday. I don't have anything organized to say.

illustration of a sea horse

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Sun 6 Oct 2019... Autumn Juvenile Birds

Oh my goodness, what an adorable little bird...

Juvenile Cedar Waxwing with Hawthorn Berries

This is a juvenile Cedar Waxwing.

I had no idea what this bird was, when I was taking her/his portrait. (But it was pretty obvious, once I zoomed in on my photos!)

A couple weeks ago, I got dive bombed by a couple birds chasing each other. I followed them down the path and discovered a whole flock of them, bouncing around in a cherry tree. And, again, I had no idea what species the birds were, as I was taking their pictures.

Juvenile American Robin eating a wild cherry

Turns out they were juvenile American Robins. (sorry, bad pic to show you! She's holding a wild cherry, but her face is partially hidden behind a leaf.)

What's with all the juveniles, here in autumn?!

Both Cedar Waxwings and Robins can raise more than one batch of nestlings during the summer. And these crazy kids are probably the successful result of those later broods!

And, our Robins don't migrate, they are year round residents. So they don't have a stressful flight that needs to happen right away.

It looks like Cedar Waxwings do migrate, but they might not go very far. So, I'd assume it wouldn't be too hard for the kids to get there.

I do worry, but probably the birds know what they're doing!

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Sat 5 oct 2019... Garden

I have been working very hard at the garden this week, getting ready for winter. We are required to cover our plots for winter, and we usually haul in leaves. But this year I want to try a cover crop.

Every other day, this week, I've walked out to the garden. I choose a section, about five feet square. I pull up all the garden plants and the borage. The Borage breaks down quickly so I throw it along the edges of our plot. And the garden plants go to the community compost pile.

Then the work: Loosening up the soil and picking out as many grass roots as I can. This is incredibly hard work.

But then the fun part! Scattering the clover seeds! I rake them in, lightly... they are small and so they're supposed to stay close to the top of the dirt. And then I walk over the section, to kind of push any extra seeds down into the dirt.

I've been working a little over an hour, on the days I go. And dang, I am getting exhausted... because I don't let myself rest on the other days. I still go for my hilly hike or my 4 mile walk! ha.

But I keep going out to the garden, even reluctantly. I really want this cover crop, so the work has got to be done. The garden plot is large, and even working five foot sections it will take a while to get it all done. But, I can see that the seeds are sprouting already, in the first section I did, so that's gratifying.

And I have some happy company while I work...

Two Goldfinches on a sunflower head

The Goldfinches flutter here and there, all around the garden. It's a joy to listen to their voices and watch them when they come close.

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Fri 4 Oct 2019... Landscape Photography

Another one of the swaps that I participated in this summer was an ongoing photo series that had a variety of topics. Of course, I felt like I excelled at the Real Photos "Nature" and "Critters" and "Floral". Unfortunately, I had to skip the "Architecture" swap since I don't really take pics of buildings.

But then there was the "Scenery" photo swap. I am terrible at landscape type photos. I know what good landscape photos look like... Ansel Adams! And I know that when I attempt to take photos of the land, there is just something missing. I can see how beautiful the day is, but I just can't capture that, for whatever reason.

So I signed up for the "Scenery" swap in order to challenge myself.

heh, and I think the weather didn't cooperate at all. Like there was one non-rainy day, or something like that, before the deadline. *shakes head*

But anyway. I was thinking about Scenery and Landscapes again today because the sky was just so amazing. so I made some attempts. eh... The sky is interesting, but the photos are just bleh!

trees and sky at Delta Ponds

trees and sky at Delta Ponds

But this one, maybe? captures more of the soul of the place?

The Willametter River at the base of Skinner Butte

That's the Willamette River and Skinner Butte, a hill that's in the middle of downtown Eugene.

I love how the morning sun is really putting definition on each of those trees in the mid-ground... You can tell, each one of those trees is a character, an individual. You've got round ones, you've got tall ones, you've got the spiky ones.

And those couple that are almost turning red, it's almost a focal point. Not quite but almost.

That's the thing that bugs me: I have to have a focal point in my photos, and most of my landscape pictures don't have one. And I don't know how to find that focal area when I am out taking pictures.

Something to work on!

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Thurs 3 Oct 2019... at the Community Garden

Goldfinch on sunflower

Oh my gosh, I love this photo...

The focus is not great, it's a little bit blurry. Which is really a bummer because it makes printing it up as a notecard or postcard very problematic. Heck, I even cringe a bit to blow it up this large for the website!

But I just love the round sunflower heads, and the design of the florets radiating out! And of course, happy goldfinch, who was chowing down on the sunflower seeds. :)

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Wed 2 Oct 2019... Hiking

I go for a long walk every day, without fail.

I'm pretty bored of the walk in my neighborhood. I have calculated that I've walked the bike path to our Community Garden over a thousand times. So there are a couple of nearby parks that I drive to, once or twice a week.

My favorite is Hendrick's Park. I take a swing through the Rhododendron Garden, and that's where I find most of the wildlife. There's a Native Plant Garden as well, where I learned about Vine Maple and Ocean Spray and Solomon's Seal.

And across the street is a hiking area. It's a relatively small area of forest and hills, surrounded by the city with neighborhoods on all sides. But it's big enough for Mule Deers and Turkeys.

None of that today, tho. There were some birds who stood for their portrait, and I do love that! But it was the mushrooms that were catching my eyes today...

Mushrooms growing on a downed tree

Mushrooms growing on a downed tree

So lovely and interesting!

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Tues 1 Oct 2019... Creative Stuff

I have not been very productive with my time, and for October, I'd like to change that. My goal is to post here every day!

Over the summer, I was very active on Swap-Bot. In addition to the weekly notecard swap I host, I was also participating in about three to five other swaps every week. I was pretty much sending out mail every day or every other day.

I enjoyed it... I work well when I have a deadline. But I was in so many swaps, I had to get stuff out right away. Yeah, I had to be organized! And that took a lot of energy, and suddenly, I wasn't having fun any more.

Two drawings, zen tangle square and crochet square

So I dropped all my swaps at the end of Aug... But there was one last one that I was working on. A Daily Doodle exchange. We filled out a calender page, each square was less than 1.5 inches. Some of my drawings were pretty good! And I remembered how much I like drawing!

So I have continued. I'm now drawing ATC size, not quite daily.

ATC: Artist Trading Card, the only rule is the size... 2½ x 3½ usually in portrait orientation. Here are some examples at Illustrated ATCs. I am not nearly as good as any of the artists there, but that's okay!

So anyway, it's very possible that I'll be uploading some of my drawings in the next month, instead of typing away all the time! :)

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fri 30 aug 2019... camera

I have had my camera for about a year and a half. It's a Panasonic FZ1000, and I've never really been happy with it.

Screenshot of Static8

I've owned a short line of digital Panasonic cameras and in the past, and have LOVED them. The auto focus is very very intuitive (a stick in front of that bird? who cares?! the camera always focuses on the bird!!) and the photos are fully saturated with great colour.

My current cam has... issues... with light. It can't deal with too much light. If there's not enough light, very often it refuses to focus on anything. Dappled light in the forest? Sheesh, why even bother?!

The thing is, I am very invested in simple point-and-click. I have never been interested in figuring out the manual settings. With wildlife, I don't have time to mess with it! And I take enough photos that I do get a decent one sometimes.

But taking photos of sunflowers, the other day, I got angry. I was looking up at these beautiful flowers, with the sky in the background... Sunflower Yellow and Sky Blue is an amazing colour combination!

But my photos were showing a pale sky and flat colour and I was sick of it.

I consulted google. One of the first websites I found said:

I have found that the auto exposure algorithms used by the FZ1000 quite often lead to a shutter speed or ISO setting which differ from that which I regard as ideal.

And then...

I live in Sydney where bright sunlight and clear skies are common leading to subjects with high brightness range. In these conditions the FZ1000 has a moderate tendency to blow out highlights with JPG capture.

Okay! So I learned how to adjust the exposure on the stupid camera. And, um, well... instantly, there were better photos! The blue, blue sky is back!

Sunflower and blue blue sky

Yay, Saturation!

*laughs* And, I don't know, maybe the focus is a little bit better as well...

Green Heron

I admit, this was probably just a lucky shot of this lovely Green Heron. But I seem to be getting more lucky shots since I've turned the exposure way way down.

So, I'm happy. And not as constantly frustrated with the cam! But I am annoyed that Panasonic has screwed up the auto settings so much.

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sun 11 aug 2019... Garden Failure

Crazy Summer!

The valley that I live in, in the Pacific Northwest, has a Mediterranean Climate... It rains from autumn thru spring and the winter is mild. The summers are hot and dry.

Supposed to be hot and dry! But this summer has been cool with chilly nights. And instead of a week or two of 100° (38°C) days, here and there during the normal 85° (30°C) days -- we've had several weeks of cold cloudy days, even with some rain!

And the summer garden veges hate the cool weather! They haven't been growing properly. The squash plants are tiny and pathetic looking with their ONE blossom. What tomatoes there are, haven't been ripening. And the cucumbers have lost uncounted flowers.

When I look at my photos from last year... the current garden looks a lot like the garden of mid-July. So, the veges are a good three or four weeks behind schedule!

A second crookneck squash is growing

On the other hand, the spring garden veges did well, I only wish I had planted more of them! But then, I always forget how much I love fresh beets.

One of our experiments in the garden this year is Fennel. We've never even eaten fennel before, but I was excited when I googled it. You can eat the fonds, the stalks, the bulb, and the flowers and fruits. It has a mild anise flavor.

Fennel

I'd been munching on the feathery leaves every time I visit the garden. Definitely refreshing! And this week I pulled up the biggest one. The guinea pigs have been eating the fronds, and love them.

And I chopped up ½ of the bulb and threw it in while cooking pasta. Like this it looks a lot like, and has the same texture, as celery. It had very mild flavor, but I probably over cooked it. For the other ½, I will chop it and just steam it in the microwave for a couple mins.

This is my favorite little corner of the garden:

Leeks, Cauliflower, Purple Basil, Soybeans

Everything is planted too close together, but it looks so happy. On the left is leeks. Then down the center is Part Two cauliflower (because of course Part One died!), Purple Basil and Soybeans.

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wed 31 july 2019... CSS

I am part way through the third week of my five week CSS class and I'm working on a new archive page for this site, as I go.

I find I am completely delighted with the simple and clean HTML code!

For instance... You see the grey bar above with the date and the title of this blog post? Currently, on this page, I'm using tables for positioning and a lot of inline styling and the code goes like this:

<table align=center width=550 cellpadding=10 cellspacing=0 border=0>
<tr><td bgcolor= #74828f>
<b><a href="2019/20190731.html" style="color: white;">
wed 31 july 2019... CSS</a></b></td></tr><tr><td><p>

Pretty complicated, huh? Whereas the new code, using HTML5 and CSS separately...

<article>
<header id="july31">
wed 31 july 2019... CSS</header>

Of course, all that information that's in the TABLE tags of the top example, still has to be spelled out. It's just spelled out in a completely separate file so you don't have to look at it when you're making a new web page.

Anyway, I just think it's pretty. And I'm glad I'm learning new things!

Love-in-a-Mist flower in front of bolting Cherokee lettuce

I just love how the light catches the veins of the Cherokee lettuce behind this Love-in-a-Mist flower!

The lettuce is going to seed now... and I let it be. Real gardeners would pull the plants out and compost them. But Goldfinches think the seeds are quite tasty! The lettuce plants with the seed heads get pretty tall, a good 4 feet or more. And I really think they are beautiful.

And even more beautiful with Goldfinches on them! :)

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sun 21 july 2019... HTML

Working on my mojo, I thought I might begin some repairs here at Static8...

Screenshot of Static8

The website design you see before you is a cobbled together mess! :) laughs. I taught myself HTML about a million years ago, and this site has gone thru several iterations because I used to enjoy playing with design and HTML code.

But the current Sunflower design has been up for way too long. Plus it's done in HTML 4.01 with tables for positioning. And the world has most definitely moved on!

I've taken a HTML5 and CSS Fundamentals class at EdX and now I'm continuing with a CSS Basics class.

My goals for the HTML and CSS class: I wanted a refresher on HTML, along with best practices, and I wanted to learn what was new in HTML5. Check!

I was also hoping to learn how to use CSS to position my designs so they'd translate across devices... to look good on a desktop monitor, on a tablet, and on a phone!

Well, I did learn the names of what I want: Flexbox and Grids. But the brief overview wasn't enough. I think I learned enough to be dangerous with Flexbox, nothing about Grids, and nothing about combining the two.

And, since I'm a random user of CSS, I actually needed to learn about the original CSS positioning techniques like relative position and float.

No big deal, the CSS class that I just signed up for covers layout and positioning. But it sounds like it too, just mentions Grids and Flexbox. So I may have to learn that on my own.

Banana Slug

A beautiful Banana Slug!

Not all Banana Slugs are bright yellow. In fact, I've never seen a yellow banana slug... they have all been this tan colour with dark spots and decorations.

But they are all big! Banana slugs are the 2nd largest slug in the world, maxing out at almost 10 inches (25cm). This one was only about 6 inches. But she+he is seriously lovely with those marking.

(Slugs and Snails are both female and male, thus the she+he!)

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Tues 16 July 2019... Update

Well, 2019 has been a crazy year...

∞ Car accident, 22 Jan 2019
It was a pretty bad one, not my fault. I was bed bound with pain from bruised ribs and sternum, and then house bound. I had a broken foot, and I'm still having some trouble associated with my time in the walking boot.

∞ Laid off, March 2019
I had worked at Copic for ten and a half years, and loved it. So that was a major bummer.

∞ Partner in the hospital, May 2019
He had to stay for seven days, with severe pneumonia. And on top of that, he had to drive himself to the ER, because I thought he was being a whiney butt.


And now the year is half gone...

I still don't have a car. (I've used the bus a few times.)

I still don't have a job. (I'm taking some time off.)

But I do still have a partner. (That's nice.)

I have got a lot of time on my hands, and I'm doing things I love: reading like crazy and going out for long walks with my camera every day. But strangely, I have not done anything creative with my time.

I quit sending out my monthly postcards last year, and I've not gotten back to it. And this site has been abandoned for many years. I haven't been drawing, and I haven't been doing much with my photos, either. No crochet, no book making, no bookmark making. I haven't even updated my book reviews.

I don't know why. I've just lost my mojo.

But that's okay. I'm working to get it back.

Stay Tuned! :)

Two Bushtits

Bushtits are pretty cool! They are tiny, and they usually bounce around too quickly for me to get a photo. So this pic is a happy surprise.

I think their pale eyes makes their face look like a hawk! Well, I bet the bugs they eat are scared of them, anyway!

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fri 18 jan 2019... Weekend Review

Gah, half of January is gone already. And I'm just a little bit slow, getting back into the swing of things...

Last weekend, I got a couple of extra things done. Just little things, but they made me happy. I wrote and sent a letter and I completed an Amnesty International Urgent Action. It has been ages since I've sent out AI mail, and I am looking forward to being active there again.

I have several big projects planned, but I've not really started any of them.

Wait. Let me back up. I've not told you WHY I have several big projects planned.

In 2018, the GoodReads postcard group that I host got overwhelming. I spent all of my free time working on it... and it had been like this for a while. I just finally got to the point where I wanted to do other things!

I grabbed a couple friends from the group and bounced ideas off them. I revamped the format of the postcard group so that it basically runs itself, I just have to get the ball rolling.

The January pc exchange is going great. And I have a lot more time on my hands!! Thus, my plans for big projects.

But maybe I need to ... ease into my crazy plans. :)

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sun 6 jan 2019... Weekend One: blah

I've been sick this weekend.

so my whole stupid life is on hold.

And I had so many plans!

Which will have to wait for next weekend.

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Tues 1 Jan 2019... Review and Revise

Happy New Year!

Well, I haven't done a New Year's post in a few years, but I'd like to spend more time typing here in 2019... so here we go!

In 2018, I changed up my walking habit... instead of walking the bike path down to the community garden, I've started driving to different places. The hiking trails at Hendrick's Park are my favorite: loads of wildlife, and a good variety of paths to take. I've also enjoyed hiking the Ridgeline at Fox Hollow and Spencer's Butte. And there's Owen's Rose Garden, where I can walk the River Bank trail and also hike up Skinner's Butte.

In 2018, I took 11,570 photos, averaging 964 photos a month. I didn't realize my camera was broken, taking slightly blurry photos, at the beginning of the year. My printer had died, in an expensive way, and then my computer had crashed in a permanent way. Using a tablet instead, I wasn't studying my photos closely like I usually do. In May, I bought a new camera. There were some frustrations, but eventually my photography habit was invigorated. Jan thru April, with the broken camera, I averaged 400 photos a month. With the new camera, I was taking about 1250 photos a month!

In 2018, the GoodReads postcard group kind of took over my life. We had between 70 and 110 players each month, and averaged 84. The last 1/2 of the year was simply overwhelming for me, and I was tired of having to spend time every day working on this project. It became more of an obligation, and less of a joyful fun thing.

In 2018, I also hosted 50 swaps at Swap-Bot, and additionally participated in 46 swaps. I enjoy the weekend notecard swap I host. Since I write about my weekend and share the photos I took, it has become a special kind of journal for me!

In 2018, I sent out 1250 postcards and letters, averaging 104 a month. Febuary was my most challenging month: both the computer and printer were dead. But for LetterMo, I managed to send out 30 postcards and letters! I found a good pace thru the summer, sending out about 160 postcards each month. But in the autumn, I started sending less.

My other major project of 2018 was the Community Garden Plot. It was not a great year, and I didn't experiment with any new vegetables. There are never enough Lemon Cucumbers, but we got plenty of zucchini and Sun Gold cherry tomatoes.


* * * * * * * * *


In 2019, I want to get back to sharing my stories.

I want to type here, more often. I want to get back to sending out my monthly postcards to friends and family. I want to get back to art journaling.

I am reminded over and over, that people enjoy reading my letters. Many people like my nature photos, but just as many enjoy my storytelling and the interesting facts I discover and add.

January Rhododendrons

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sun 9 sept 2018... walking

Yesterday, I didn't feel like driving to any of my usual hiking places. And I wanted to get pics of Goldfinches! So I walked out to our Community Garden.

The Comm Garden is about a mile away, and it is right on the bike path. This path runs next to a creek and has a decent area of green space along parts of it. It's a beautiful walk and I have encountered all kinds of wildlife over the years.

But this year, I'm more likely to drive someplace else to walk. Walking along the path yesterday, I thought about this.

I have walked that path about 1000 times. Yes, literally. A thousand times. I did the math.

I know what kinds of birds or beasts or bugs I might come across, at any time of the year. I know the cracks in the pavement. I know the graffeti with the misspelled word which has been there since last year. I know when and where I might pick some blackberries to munch on. I know the places where the homeless people might hang out. I recognize many of the dog walkers, and know a couple dogs and humans by name.

Knowing these things has been comforting for most of my time here! But lately, I just want to look at something different. :)

Goldfinch eating a sunflower seed on a sunflower head

The Goldfinches are molting this time of year, so their feathers look a bit messed up. :)

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mon 3 sept 2018... Song Sparrows

I have a love for Song Sparrows.

Yep, they are sparrows. Also known as "little brown birds"! :)

But Song Sparrows are seriously cute, with their stripey face and chest. They stay here, year round. (and can be found, all across the US and up into Canada for at least some of the year!) And their voices are so cheerful and happy. I just love their song!

But more importantly... Song Sparrows seem to be fascinated by me and my camera!

When I happen to find a Song Sparrow close by, I start taking pics and they start showing off for me! They hop around, study me from several angles, flick their tail and stand up straight, and stay and watch me for a while!

At first I just assumed it's because I'm awesome! *laughs*

But maybe they like the beeps my camera makes. I tested this today. There was a Song Sparrow close to the trail who dove into the underbrush when I saw her. She didn't go far, tho. So I turned on my camera, and held down the shutter button to do the auto-focus. *beep*

And the Song Sparrow came out of hiding immediately! ha! I could hear her talking with her friend. Song birds have this *chirp* contact call, which they say constantly to each other. The *chirp* is nothing like the camera focus *beep*... but maybe I'm making the *beep* as a natural response to their contact calls.

Song Sparrow with cob webs

anyway, we like each other.

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sun 2 sept 2018... hike

Instead of my walks to and from the community garden, this year I've been going for hikes on the weekends. My favorite place is a city park that has a Rhododendron Garden and a Native Plants Garden.

And across the way, there's a forest trail and part of the Ridgeline. The trails are short, but pretty steep. And if you want to walk all of them, you can go for several miles.

I walked these trails yesterday, and I wasn't having much luck with the wildlife. I'd see a chipmunk! and then I'd see her tail as she scampered away into the underbrush. Several times over... Chipmunk! Tail! Song Sparrow! Flicked his tail! then gone. foo.

Some days are like that. I just kept walking up and down the hills. And then a deer.

Or to be precise, a deer's butt.

He was pretty far off the trail, and I watched his butt for a while, walking back and forth on the path, trying to get a better view. He finally moved and laid down where I could almost see him!

Mule deer buck, laying in the forest

I've seen does at the park and a momma with a child, so it was exciting to see a male for the first time. He had a girlfriend with him, too, that was sweet.

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sat 1 sept 2018... An Experiment

I have a little extra brain power, and I think I'm going to dedicate it to blogging.

At the day job, they fired all my friends in the warehouse. And I'm bored, so bored, without fun and interesting people walking by who want to chat with me about random things. So, instead of my brain complaining to me about how bored it is... I'd like to think up topics and writings for this place!

Don't know if it will work, that's why it's an experiment. But I aim to post here, not every day, but 4 or 5 days a week, for the month of September.

Note: Yeah, none of the internal links work here at the website. I've not fixed everything since my devestating computer crash at the beginning of the year.

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sat 5 may 2018 2018... Spring Cleaning

Well so much for my March goals of posting more often. And so much for my April goals of catching up with my GoodRead book reviews. And so much for sending mail every day. Multiple Failures.

I can't stick with anything, and I'm having trouble doing anything at all.... Depression is acting up, big time.

But, it's a new month, and I'm going to give it another go!

My partner is visiting his mom, and he'll be gone for two weekends, so I've decided to do some Spring Cleaning. The floor of my bedroom is my craft area, and there are several years worth of piles taking over.

It's embarassing, but, as I mentioned, with depression it's just difficult or impossible to deal with things.

I took all the piles out and vacuumed.

There is no walking space in my partner's room... but my room looks open and inviting. I celebrated by getting my paints out!

star art

This idea has been rattling around in my brain for a couple weeks: Black Paper + Metallic Watercolours! I'm going to cut up the page and send it as postcards!

Yay Art!

Now the hard part, of course, is going thru all those piles and finding a place for everything. About ½ the piles are just books... but I ran out of book shelf space a long time ago. However, once I find and clear a space, the books will be the easiest thing to deal with.

All the other stuff, I don't know. These two weekends might be interesting.

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sat 31 mar 2018 2018... April Goals

Well, sheesh. I did mean to post more often during the month of March! Unfortunately, I've been dealing with a (very) lingering cold and I've mostly slept thru the last half of March.

Despite this, I have sent mail almost every day during March. I only skipped two days. Problem is, I didn't write ANY LetterMo replies, like I meant to!

For April, I'd like to continue my goal of sending mail most every day. It would be nice to figure out a way to motivate myself to write replies, as well. Not to mention, I need to keep up with my mail log, as well.

But my major goal for April is a different project that I have procrastinated for a very long time.

My book reviews GoodReads. I am currently a year behind.

It's important to me because, with my postcard group there, I am very active on GR. I am a fairly serious reader, and it's a bit embarrassing that I'm not adding the books I've read.

I use my book reviews to remember what I've read, and to find new books when I find an author I like. The book reviews are also a conversation starter with the members of the group I host. And I just feel organized, when I am all caught up with a project! :)

So here's my plan. Slow Drip! Ten minutes, every day!

When I pull out the computer every evening, I will set a timer. There will be ten minutes of focused activity:

Figure out the next book, find my handwritten review. Read it and make corrections.

Add the book at GR and type the review.

I hope to add reviews about every other day? I tend to hem-and-haw about my reviews, so I'm not sure if I can finish typing one in 10 minutes.

That's the plan. We'll see how it goes!

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fri 9 mar 2018 2018... Story of the Printer

Well. I think I have a working printer. We shall see how long it lasts.

I've bought 3 printheads here recently. The first one only lasted about three weeks. The second one never even installed correctly (And then I was not refunded for the peice of junk they gave me). And here we are on the third one.

printer

Yeah, at this point, I'm a little short on hope.

But I've started printing things here and there. Trying not to get too excitable. Just a few basic postcards.

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fri 2 mar 2018 2018... Arriving from USPS

Yesterday my order from USPS.com arrived...

USPS order

This is a fair representation of the stamps I buy every month... About 5 or 6 sheets of Global stamps, usually two rolls of Postcard stamps, a few sheets of Forever stamps (especially new ones, or ones I love), and, if they have new Postal Notecards, I'll get some of those.

I am especially excited about the amazing Bioluminescent Life Stamps. Wow! They are shiny! I love them!

LetterMo March On

LetterMo March On... my goal is to continue to send mail every day, and to send some replies.

I actually did really well about replies in Feb... I sent out four replies to SendSomething.net and LetterMo friends. Since my normal is zero replies, actually sending a few is a great improvement! *laughs*


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wed 28 feb 2018 2018... Keeping Sane: Snail Mail

Month of Letters 2018 Participant

This year's LetterMo -- Sending mail every day during the month of February -- was not as fun as usual.

A lot of that, of course, was my personal apocalypse... no files and no printer and I couldn't make my own postcards and send tons like I usually do.

But some of it was the LetterMo website. The personal messaging system was turned off, and that was a major bummer. The badges were down, which in years past were always a fun incentive. The forums were pretty slow, and there were only a couple of blog posts... probably because there was a private facebook page (which I'm not interested in, due to myriad reasons).

Anyway, just kind of a disappointing experience.

So I've decided to make March special by typing about my mailing fun here! Here's what I'm working with...

postcards

Those are some of the postcards I've been sending out. Yeah, store bought. sighs... but I did buy them to use them!

I am happy to use some of my store-bought notecards as well. I've been signing up for more written notecard exchanges at swap-bot, and I host my own weekly swap as well. It's fun and I have learned how to fill a page with chatting... I couldn't tell you if it's interesting or not. ;)

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sun 25 feb 2018... Looking Up!

Yay and Huge Relief! Files are back!

I haven't downloaded all of the years yet, but it looks like almost all of my files have been returned to me. So far, there's just a few weeks of January 2018 that are missing. But getting Hundreds of Thousands of photos returned more than makes up for it!

Next up: Figure out what to do about the printer and the crashed computer.

When I didn't have my files, I felt like my life was on pause and I couldn't do anything. But now, I feel like a real person again!

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sun 11 feb 2018... Keeping Sane

My regular and ordinary, if obsessive, hobbies are keeping me sane during this time of Extreme Troubles.

On an ordinary weekend day, I go for a walk. I take photos. I turn photos into postcards. and I mail like crazy!

Okay. So right now, I can't print. And I don't have any addresses to send postcards to. All due to the Extreme Troubles I mentioned.

But I keep walking. And I keep taking photos.

And I'm surprised at all the wildlife that's showing up!

There is this one tree, it's about 1/2 way out on the path to the Community Garden. Birds like to sit there, it's kind of a look-out tree because it's right on the edge of the green area, and it's tall and alone, and it's base is mostly surrounded by a Wet Prairie pond.

Sometimes Starlings. Lately, Crows. I noticed a big dark bird in the tree as I came around the corner. But, when I got within camera range... um, that's not a Crow!

In fact, she or he was being mobbed by a Crow!

Raptor! Awesome!

Hawk being mobbed by a crow

Unfortunately, there is no hope for the photos I took. The day was too cloudy and I was too far away.

Hawk in a tree

But that's okay. It's always fun to see someone new!

This is a Red-Shouldered Hawk, a little bit outside her usual range along the coast in California.

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fri 9 feb 2018... My Apocalypse

At the end of January a bunch of crises happened and I am having the worst year ever.

∞ Print head died. AGAIN.
I had just bought a print head, and it only lasted 3 weeks. I've now spent 500$ because I have to be able to print! (This is a large, high-end printer, and yes, it's worth it.)

∞ SO's mom is in the hospital.
Fell and broke her left humerus. Kidney failure. and a diabetes diagnosis. SO took a flight out to Miami to be with her and help organize care.

And in the meantime, our phones went down and communicating with each other on opposite sides of the country, became difficult.

∞ And then my computer crashed.
in a rather permanent way.

∞ And then my backup files disappeared

All my photos, gone. My postcard files. The address files. The files and software I use to coordinate the mail exchanges I host. Emails. My encrypted password file.

All gone. And I honestly don't know how to live my life without all this stuff.

And I'm so overwhelmed, it's difficult to even look at data recovery options. And I've been stymed again and again, as I try to find a decent and real Data Recovery company. I'm beginning to wonder if they are not all just scams, out to get money from desperate people.


A Good Thing: I recently bought myself a tablet, and I splurged on the extra memory. I'm fleshing it out with hardware and software and it is now a decent replacement for my crashed computer.

Just no files.

I go back and forth between hope and hopelessness. not to mention helplessness.

Another Good Thing: My friends have been awesome, caring and understanding. I don't know how I would have reacted without them. Saying "Thank You" is such a ridiculous under-statement of my gratitude that it makes me cringe. But...

Thank You!

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sun 12 nov 2017... Daily Drawing

Guinea Pig drawing on saturday

Art Every Day Month


I've not been posting... but I have been drawing every day this month!

I sit down every evening to write some postcards, and then I pull out an index card to do my drawing.

I'm using pencils and Copic Sketch greys. Many of my drawings are coloured.

I am drawing from my own photos. I've got several pics of Guinea Pigs Piper and Dawn. I've also drawn some of my postcard photos of birds.

My drawings are not that great. Mostly, I am okay with this. I only draw once a year, after all, and I'm definitely losing my talent with so little practice! Arg.

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sun 22 oct 2017... Creative Every Day

For the month of October, I've challenged myself to send at least one bit of mail, every day.

This used to be standard operating procedure. But this summer, I took a break. ha: no good came of it, that I could tell! ;) So, I need to get back to my mailing normals. Every Day.

So far, so good.

Art Every Day Month


And for November, I will be drawing every day.

Last November, I sketched on 4x6 index cards and my focus was drawing myself in the mirror. It was definitely something different, since I don't really like drawing humans. But I think it turned out rather well.

I'm not sure if I completed the challenge of drawing every day of the month... I did run out of time to upload all my drawings, and I don't remember how much further into the month I got. I will look into this!

So anyway. This annual drawing challenge is important to me because it's mostly the only time I bother to sketch. I do other artsy things: I take a couple hundred photos every week, and I design a postcard or notecard every week. I create several journal pages every week.

But physically drawing something takes different creative "muscles". It's a bummer that those muscles only get stretched once a year... but maybe one November, I will keep going into December, and then into the new year.

This is what I hope for. And this is why I keep challenging myself with a daily drawing during November.

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Sat, 07 Oct 2017 18:19:26 PDT

Uploaded a couple old entries. Got some back end stuff cleaned up.

And wishing I could spare some more time for my poor, abandoned web site.



sun 24 sept 2017... Banned Books Week!

Yeah, if I only write one blog post a year, this is the one I'm going to type! :)

It's been a few years since I have added to the Classics List. But this year, I've read The Catcher in the Rye... Which brings my Classics total to 12 of 46:

2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
9. 1984, by George Orwell
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
57. Sophie's Choice, by William Styron

And, I am excited to report, I've read at least one book from each year's Top Ten list...

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  • The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
  • Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
  • Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
  • And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
  • Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  • The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  • His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
  • To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • (Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
  • Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  • (The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins)
  • Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
  • I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

Yay, Reading!

The thing I love about Banned Books Week is that it introduces me to books I wouldn't ordinarily read. Beyond Magenta about transgender teens??! How random! And yet, it made me laugh, it made me cry, and I hope it made me a better person.

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wed 12 apr 2017... J is for Journal

I am pretty serious about keeping my journal. In the past, this has manifested as Daily Stories, Morning Pages, Art Journals, and just Filling Up Note Pads.

Currently I am journaling digitally on the weekends, adding photos, blog posts and emails... And then printing and adding paper notes, written journal pages and random ephemera... And then binding it all up into a wire-bound book!

This has worked really well for me for several years.

Well, except I perpetually don't have time for this project. So, I'll print and bind a couple months here and there, and then much later I'll do a couple more. Not sure how long it's been since I've completed a full year!

And, you know? I am completely okay with that! I do journal on a consistent basis... it's just the form that's somewhat inconsistent!

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tues 11 apr 2017... Introvert

I'm an extreme introvert. Toss in some shyness and some social anxiety. Yep, that's me!

I love open space. I do not want humans in my bubble. My bubble is pretty big. I'd rather not talk to you... but if you want to type or write, I'm all for it!

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mon 10 apr 2017... H is for Horses

Yep, I'm crazy for horses!

I graduated college with a BS in Equine Science... nope, I didn't go into the business: the summer jobs I had taught me that working with horses is extremely hard work for little pay. :) But I would not have done it any other way, my misdirected schooling got me where I am, and I'm quite happy here.

I do sometimes miss riding horses. I rode dressage, and enjoyed it. But now that I'm vegan, I know it's wrong to enslave a fellow earthling.

So these days, I occasionally draw horses but that's the extent of it.

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sat 8 apr 2017... Gardening and Guinea Pigs

The baby guinea pigs are now 2 weeks old. They are definitely the picture of cuteness! Still no names, yet, but I am pretty sure the Big One is female and the Little One is male. We've got a vet appt next week to be sure.

Taking care of guinea pigs is part of my activism for animals. Guinea pigs, as a species, have been so abused by humans that their name is synonymous with experimentation. It is part of my mission in life to love and care for them.

And the gardening...

We have had a Community Garden plot since 2009. I still don't consider myself a "real" gardener... I just pretend: I'm mostly there for the photo opportunities, but I'm happy to get a few zucchini and sun gold cherry tomatoes out of the deal as well! :)

The Community Garden is about a mile away, and right on the bike path that follows the creek which runs near my home. It's a lovely walk, and I go out to the garden most every weekend all through the winter. During the spring and summer, I usually have to drive there because I've got baby plants or tools or compost.

Our "go to" veges that we plant every year are: Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, Zucchini, Lemon Cucumbers, Sweet Potatoes, Butternut Squash. We do have some Strawberry plants, but only get a handful of strawberries every year. After that, we experiment with new veges every year.

I practice Veganic gardening, for the most part. That means Organic (no pesticides, organic starts and seeds) and Vegan (no animal-based compost, no attempts to kill slugs or other critters).

The only non-vegan thing I do is the very occasional vermicompost: We've got a worm bin at home... keeping and using worms as pets is not vegan, but it helps the earth so much I think the "end justifies the means"... but I am quite ambivilent about it.

We started this year's garden Today! I don't have very good luck planting seeds, so we usually buy most of our veges as seedlings from Saturday Market. Today we got Snap Peas, Cauliflower and a new experiment Cherokee Lettuce.

I'm looking forward to warmer weather so we can fill up our space with plants and flowers!

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fri 7 apr 2017... F is for Freedom

Life is a hard battle anyway. If we laugh and sing a little as we fight the good fight of freedom, it makes it all go easier. I will not allow my life's light to be determined by the darkness around me.
~ Sojourner Truth

I am a human rights activist. I do my best to Fight the Good Fight of Freedom for everybody on the planet. My activism through letter writing and postcard sending is an important part of my life.

I am a letter writer for Amnesty International's Urgent Action Network. It's been a while since I've been super active: I used to take on an Urgent Action every weekend. These days, I am not quite so dedicated: I'm writing one case a month.

And I take on other mailing campaigns, as I see them: I've sent postcards for the blitz to Betsy DeVos to #DefendPublicEducation and I sent a bunch of postcards for the The Ides of Trump.

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thurs 6 apr 2017... E is for Ebooks

I discovered Project Gutenberg in 1997 or 98. I think the first book I read on my computer was Alice in Wonderland... or maybe it was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I read both, early on and it was the combination of two of my loves: books and computers!

I bought a Palm handheld device, at some point. I loved that thing! I could read old Gutenberg books, or buy new books from Fictionwise (now defunct). Plus I could play Sudoku and an awesome pinball game.

Eventually the battery went out. Instead of fixing it, I bought an Amazon Kindle. Which I'm still reading today, even though it has a couple of micro cracks in the screen and is slow as dirt. :)

When I bought the kindle, the deal I made with myself was that I would only have one (bought and paid for) book at a time. If anything else came up while I was reading my one, I would get the free sample.

This worked brilliantly for years!

I have still bought more than I can read of the dead-tree books. But my digital collection has remained manageable. I had tons of free samples, but just the one book I'm currently reading.

Until recently.

I signed up for this stupid Daily Deal thing at GoodReads. And, as I mentioned before: "A curse on those Daily Deals. The book is 2$! Today Only! and I meant to read it some day, anyway."

Lordy. And, the bought-but-unread books are piling up on my Kindle as well as in real life. But at least I'm not paying 10+$ for these books I might not ever read! *giggles*

kindle

The kindle, with some dead-tree books I've read recently.

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wed 5 apri 2017... D is for Drawing

Drawing is one of those random things I like to do, except, like blogging, it seems to only happen in concentrated daily challenges like this one. I usually do my daily drawing challenge in November.

(ha, I just remembered I ran out of time to upload all my drawings from last november! Need to do some scanning and pre-date a few more blog entries, I guess.)

Anyway. I usually do a half-decent job when I draw... as in you can mostly tell what it is I'm drawing! And drawing is a skill and I can easily improve, just by practicing every day. Thing is, I've got a million other projects that I work on every day as well. Just have to let some stuff go.

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tue 4 apr 2017... C is for computers

I have had a very happy relationship with computers since my Dad got a TRS-80 when I was a kid! I eventually minored in Computer Science at university. I got As and Bs, but the programming classes were more difficult... school stuff came pretty easily for me, so it was a surprise when I actually had to think.

I never wanted a computer job, because I knew if I worked on or with computers all day I would not want to play with the computer on my own time.

But every once in a while, I do think I want to try with the programming again. I'll buy a new book about some random language, and then I will realize I don't have time to read the hefty book, let alone learn anything!

ha, but some day I will get bored with my regular books, and I'll dig out one of those old programming books...

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mon 3 apr 2017... B is for Books (and Birds)

I love reading!

And Birds are cool too. Sometimes I read books about birds. The biggest reason why I like birds, is because they are almost always available to be photographed! Even when you don't have a bird feeder. :)

But this post is actually about books. I have a terrible habit of buying more books than I can read. I'm not sure of the exact count, but I'm positive that I have 60 or 70 books here, that I've bought but haven't yet read. Yeah, there are piles of books all over the place!

Including on my kindle! A curse on those Daily Deals. (The book is 2$! Today Only! and I meant to read it some day, anyway!) (Arg!)

Haha!

This years book pile

One of my piles. These are some of the books I got for xmas. A couple of the books, I have read. Most I have not! There are three bird books in this pile. :)

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*PRE-DATED* sat 25 mar 2017... Piper, part TWO!

Before Piper was brought to the local humane society, she was kept with a male guinea pig. uh huh.

Greenhill Humane Society fostered Piper for a month, and there were multiple vet appointments before she was up for adoption. Her last ultrasound was on 14 feb, "Rechecked abdominal ultrasound... Unlikely to be pregnant, ok for adoption."

Well, yeah. Humane Society people were very confident and I totally assumed they knew what they were talking about!

But last thursday, I came home from the day job, spent some time with Piper and realized she was very pregnant. I could see a very active fetus on her left side, and a more relaxed fetus on the right side of her tummy. and more fetuses hanging out underneath? eek!

I looked up Guinea Pig gestation -- 70 days -- and did the math. If Piper got pregnant on the very morning that she was brought in to the humane society, the babies would be born on sunday 26 march. That gave me a time-line to work with.

Basically, SOON!!!!

ha. I worried as Piper got more round every day. And more round!

Finally: Friday 24th of March, around noon. Two babies born!!!

I am so surprised and amazed that there are just the two. It means that I have meet and become acquainted with both before they were born!

It took a couple of minutes, but soon I could tell who was the active baby, who I had called a "tap dancer" as a fetus, from the smaller, relaxed baby, who just stretched every once in a while inside Piper. Tap Dancer is much bigger, and the stretcher is practically a runt.

They are quite adorable. In all my years of taking care of guinea pigs, I've never had to care for babies, so this is new and wonderful and terrifying and anxiety producing for me!

Piper the momma guinea pig with babies

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sat 1 apr 2017... A is for Art

Blogging A to Z

Thanks to one of my friends over at GoodReads, I am going to attempt another month of daily blogging. The Blogging from A to Z Challenge sounds do-able and fun... Every day's topic is to begin with each letter of the alphabet. So rather than an infinite number of topics I could be typing about, I'll be more limited and hopefully not as overwhelmed! :)

So. Art. Yeah, capital "A" art!

Yep, I love Art. But this post is actually about me. I am an Artist. I don't throw that word around lightly, but I definitely own it.

I am a photographer and I share my photos with the world: here on my web site and on the postcards that I send out.

I am not a professional and I have never made money on my art. I don't have to worry about such things because I have a decent day job which pays me a living wage. That's not to say I'm opposed to making money on photos, I'm just not interested in it right now. And I don't consider money to be an indicator of my success.

Success, to me right now, is simply knowing that I've brought a smile to someone's face when they are standing at their mailbox. :)






P.S. I do not have comments enabled here on the blog. I just don't have the time to maintain them. If you wish to say something to me, my email and my PO box are listed in the sidebar on the right. Happy Day, rift

P.P.S. Another good "A" word, that I felt bad about passing by: Abecedarian

And Another Thing: I have Announcements to make, which I will be typing soon and post-dating. They'll be at the top of this page in the next day or so!

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sat 4 mar 2017... The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

My partner and I have adopted Piper the guinea pig!

Humane Society Website photo

"The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" is my favorite chapter in The Wind in the Willows and I love the name Piper. I think she is named appropriately: her webpage at the humane society mentioned that she's talkative, and loves to sing!

Piper is about 6 months old. Her intake papers make me sad. This is the paperwork filed out by the previous "caretaker" who surrendered her to the humane society. They list her name as Brown. Sighs, that's not a name. That's not even a description, since she's yellow and white.

And "How often is your pet handled?" Not Multiple times per day, and Not Daily... but weekly. Which probably means less. Sad, because she is very friendly. Definitely not "shy" or "timid", which is almost a joke.

And her "Problem Behaviors" are "Chewing" and "Escape Artist"... *giggles* I wonder if they kept her in a cardboard box!!!

(In case you don't know, guinea pigs and all rodents are SUPPOSED to chew! Their teeth grow continually and they have to chew hard things like wood to wear them down. Trimming their teeth is a routine procedure at your veterinary appointments.)

piper the guinea pig

Here's Piper at home, accessing the escape possibilities. ;)

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Mon, 27 Feb 2017 20:30:48 PDT

Outgoing Mail

Today's outgoing mail included a postcard protest directed at the Department of Education.

I'm looking forward to the big postcard protest of the 15th of March...
The Ides Of...




Sun, 26 Feb 2017 20:04:38 PDT

the weekend outgoing mail



sun 26 feb 2017... #TheIdesOfTrump Free Printable

Ides of March

There is a mailing campaign aimed at the US White House for the Ides of March...

And I intend to participate and inundate!!!

I made a postcard which I am offering as a free download. The PDF has two single-sided postcards on letter sized paper. Print it up on card stock at Actual Size and cut it on the crop marks to create two 4x6inch postcards.

Write your comments on the back. Put a Postcard or Forever Stamp on the front... 34¢ is all that is required. Then mail on 15 March 2017.

postcard

Free Printable: #TheIdesOfTrump postcard

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sat 25 feb 2017... mail

I guess I forgot to post anything here, last weekend... Yeah, that uploading a photo every day is going Great, isn't it??! haha!

notecards

So this week, I've been working on the february postcards for the postcard group I host. I like to send a postcard to everyone who participates. It was a fun and joyful thing to do when the group was small. Last year, the monthly exchanges hit 50 and 60 participants, which was more difficult: I would spend hours every evening for most of two weeks writing postcards. I enjoyed it, but it was taking over my life!

This year, the group is up over 70 players every month. I've simplified my process by typing my message on the postcards instead of writing. It has helped immensely. It's not as personal, but I can type a lot more since I can reduce the font size. And of course, things go much more quickly now. We are back to having fun and joy again!

Here's a pic of my work space as I'm cutting up the 2nd half of the postcards...

cutting up gr postcards

As I cut out each postcard, I arrange them by country. I send out International postcards first since it takes them a bit longer to get to where they're going.

When I cut up the USA postcards, I arrange them by zip code so I can send to the east coast first, which is the furthest away. Closest locations -- California, Oregon and Washington state -- are sent last and only take a day or two of travel time.

Before I printed all the postcards, I did stress a bit about the wordage I was typing. When I was hand-writing my postcards, I would practice what I wanted to say and my words would change as I edited myself. And that doesn't happen when I'm typing my words. I guess in the future, I need to actually write my stuff a few times over before I go to the computer to type it!

It's a big project, and I love it. The people are wonderful and kind and I always enjoy conversing with them... both online and in the post!

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sun 12 feb 2017... mail

Haha! So much for taking pics of my mail every day! (I've not posted anything here for a week.) Truth be told, I got bored of the pics because I was only sending one or two postcards every day last week. And I ran out of time to get creative with the backgrounds.

So, here is what I worked on this weekend, with the standard boring background... tho I do like the Copic markers as props! :)

This weekends mail

Sending on Monday: 4 letters
One to a friend, one swap-bot notecard
and two swap-bot "Interest Me in a Book" notes

Oh, and I love to use digital paper as belly bands when I send standard letter-size paper in the US#10 envelope... You can't see it in the pic, but the brownish dot paper is very beautiful and is included in this set, made by my friend Linda at Happy Print Club: Tea Time Stationery Printables. And yes, there's tons of free printables on the Internets... but I prefer to support artists, financially!

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Mon, 06 Feb 2017 18:32:30 PDT

Weekend projects

I cut up a couple world maps to make a bunch of postcards this past weekend. They came out amazingly well! I put 11 of them in the this morning's mail.

Also Sent: 2 welcome postcards
+ 2 letters
= 15 total bits of mail today!




Sat, 04 Feb 2017 18:26:33 PDT

postcards

Sent: 3 welcome postcards




fri 3 feb 2017... condolences

condolences

Sent: 1 condolence card

sighs. Last year I lost track of how many condolence cards I sent. And this year is starting out the same. This is the second sympathy card I've sent this year, already.

It's a hard thing to do. It's sad and there is nothing you can say on a card that will help. But, believe me, it is very very important that you write and send something!

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Thu, 02 Feb 2017 19:02:55 PDT

postcard work space

Sent: 1 GR Welcome PC
+ 1 Swap-Bot PC




Wed, 01 Feb 2017 18:50:25 PDT

postcard work space

Sent: 1 GR Welcome PC




sun 22 jan 2017... LetterMo Plans

LetterMo.com

Yay Mail! and Yay Month of Letters!

Okay, so you know the State of the Blog is "way behind"... so what is the State of the Postcards?? Well, there's good. and bad. and normal.

Good: I got a slow start at the beginning of the month because I was not feeling well... but I am catching up big time and am on track to have a regular month. During a regular month, I send out about 130 postcards and notecards! Yay Mail!

Bad: I am very behind on my mail log. What's involved here? I scan my incoming mail and type it into my mail log and then postcards need to be registered with certain websites. I'm still dealing with december mail, here! ack!

And Normal: xmas Thank You notes, not written yet. Probably won't be sent until March or so! haha! yep. this is normal.

letter writing work space

My letter writing work space in Dec when I was writing Amnesty International protest letters for Write for Rights. I thought the Star Trek stamps were appropriate! and I'm still decorating my envelopes with my Wide markers.

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friday 20 jan 2017... Behind the times, but catching up

Well. um. Happy New Year!

I have had some creative down time... I never completed the posts for my daily drawing month in November, I didn't post again after that, and, most importantly, I did not post my annual First of January "year in review".

I've been doing a Jan 1st post for about a million years, and this is the first time I've ever missed it!

My Excuses: I got busy. Then I got busy with the holidays. And then I got sick with a bad and lingering flu.

I'm feeling better now, so, here's the plan... I will fill in older posts as I get the time. I will back date them, but I will post them here on this page in the order that I type them.

I have deleted the rest of this page in order to encourage my participation in this plan: it looks kind of empty around here, doesn't it??! Look! You can see the bottom of the page! hello, rift?! Type something, rift!!!

*laughs*


for Inauguration Day:
I stand on the side of LOVE.

Egret

Looking down at an Egret in the Rain.

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Welcome
rifts avatar
I am rift vegan!
I live in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, with my Significant Other (SO) and Piper the Guinea Pig. I am vegan for ethical and environmental reasons, my love for animals and nature is a very important part of my life.
        This blog is occasionally about...
Vegan Life
Nature
Photography
Handmade Postcards
Books, Reading & eBooks
Gardening
the Paper Journal
Crochet
Drawing & Art Projects
Randomness :)

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Yep, you can email me. and you can write to me.
Email

rift vegan
PO Box 23724
Eugene OR 97402
USA


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