November to now

•December 19, 2012 • 1 Comment

I wish I’d posted my mostly daft ramblings before now.  It would have been so much easier to write.

I would have carried on with my post-Thanksgiving retail rant.  I probably would have whined a bit more about the materialization of a religious holiday.  I might have had one or two cat stories – or maybe shared with you my “most bizarre injury I’ve ever had” tale.  I am positive I would have done a lot of gloating about our election.

I may have, but I won’t now.  The unbelievably tragic event that devastated a small town over 1,000 miles from me has, for now, left me numb.  It’s difficult for me to understand on any level.  I can’t read or watch the news.  I think that when I reflect upon all the mass-killings in the US and other countries this year, I’m not wondering so much about guns, but how we continually fail, or turn a blind eye to the people who are so desperately dangerous to themselves and others.  We are paying a high price here.

So I will simply share my cards and wish everyone the joy of family and friends.

Peace,

Michelle

November Notables

November Outbox

October – Over and Out!

•November 18, 2012 • 2 Comments

Forget October! According to the retail stores, we should have barely noticed October. They want us to skip November altogether and dive headfirst into Christmas! I wish they’d look at their calendars every now and again. I resent having my panic button pushed earlier and earlier every year.

My October was mostly filled with doctor appointments and a one-night stay in hospital. I had my first-ever stress test and one is just fine. Good news is my heart is normal and strong! I am now without a gallbladder and so far, haven’t missed it. I truly have grown to detest waiting in doctors’ offices. This round of physicians’ waiting room tables tended to be stacked with “guys” magazines – “Field & Stream,” “Big Trucks,” “Men’s Health.” What’s with that? I was lucky to find a stray 1985 National Geographic. While I’m waiting, I want the opportunity to openly read the dirt on celebrities in “People” or “US.” I did learn very quickly that you should always take your Kindle or Nook with you on these visits. Have I mentioned that I am a dinosaur and still don’t have a smart phone? I only want them when bored – and Kindle is a lot cheaper!

We did celebrate Halloween in a big way at work. 3 floors of our building go all out with decorations and the day before Halloween, people with kids bring them in full costume to “Trick or Treat.” Here are just a few pictures of the fun!

Halloween at MKI

Of course, almost everything in the U.S. was about the election. Red versus blue, Dems versus Reps, point here, point there. He said this, no I didn’t say that; yes, he said that. Thank heavens it is over. I will just say that I was very relieved by the outcome. Immensely relieved!

Thanksgiving is less than a week away. I have wonderful memories of big family gatherings, but mine will be small and intimate. Just me and 3 cats! It’s very easy on the oven and budget. I still like the holiday more than any other. I look at it as the “Golden Rule” of the holidays. Remember the good things that make your life what it is. Reflect on your family – pull out old pictures, tell funny stories about people no longer in your physical life.

Enjoy your good fortunes, and if you are in the US, take a nap so you can line up in front of the Big Box Retailers at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night for that super deal they’ve been advertising every thirty minutes since October 1. You may want to read the fine print in the ads while you’re waiting. “Limited number” means the store has only 2 of the TV set you want available. If you’re 140th in line, you can go home. We’ll talk about the Golden Rule when you get back.

I gave up hosting one of my Postcrossing Round Robins. It took me a while to finally decide that the group was too large and was becoming a full-time job. My rule has always been that if a hobby becomes a job and not fun, hand it over to someone with a new enthusiasm. Weird though. It’s akin to selling your house. You’re tired of it, want to unload it and someone buys it. Great, right? But you drive by it a little while later and see new plants, new paint color, new door and you’re sad. You may like all those changes, but you didn’t realize that it would give a little pain to your heart to see so many traces of you just gone.

I experienced my 15 minutes of fame. Postcrossing.com has a blog that, among other topics, interviews various members. I was excited and stunned to get an email asking me to participate. So, I’ll do a little bragging by sharing it with you! http://www.postcrossing.com/blog/2012/11/04/postcrossing-spotlight-michellew-from-texas-usa#comments (You’ll need to copy/paste to your browser.)

Cards came in and flew out of the mailbox. There are a few that should truly make you chuckle, if not laugh out loud!

Hugs!
Michelle

Outrageous October
October Outward Bound

Suddenly September

•October 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Busy month! There’s an election going on over here in the US and that’s always the best show in town, sometimes a comedy and sometimes a slasher movie! I don’t choose to use this little get-together as a political forum, but I must give a nod to all newspaper editorial cartoonists, because they’ve had great material and have been brilliant capturing the absurdity on every level.

Just as September closed for the year, the Great State Fair of Texas began – and it was nearly flooded by the rain that started the day it opened. The fair’s iconic greeter – Big Tex – didn’t have his 60th birthday party. Big Tex is a huge figure that made his debut at the 1952 fair. He sports a size 70-gallon cowboy hat and stands 52 feet tall. In 1953, they added the voice of the State Fair of Texas. BT still greets visitors with a booming, “Howdy, folks!”

Big Tex’s voice has changed a bit and his clothes are updated every few years. His belt buckle is now a giant advertisement as are the pockets on his shirt and jeans. But he still towers over the visitors and children still crane their necks and gape with wonder at this behemoth. I love him. He is part of the good memories of my childhood. Trying to win goldfish, stuffed toys, trinkets was the stuff of dreams. Today, traditions such as the State Fair corned dog and funnel cakes still pack on the weight, but oh so deliciously! Kids have too many sodas or too much lemonade, while adult kids partake of a stronger brew.

It hosts long-time rival football games – pigskin football – such as Texas Longhorns vs University of Oklahoma Sooners. My family grows horns every September – true Longhorns. The Fair is also home to spectacular art deco buildings, museums, new car exhibitions, food contests, livestock shows – it is pure Texas. If you’re ever here the first three weeks of October, you have to visit.

I’m still sorting and editing photos from our Canada trip. I got some I really liked – especially for a plain little digital camera! I had to laugh – the first hundred or so were trees. And trees. River. Trees. I’m not sure how many I took, but the Buchart Gardens on Victoria Island almost took an entire memory card. I do look forward to sharing some. I think you’ll enjoy the Plaster Man, Emily Carr’s sculpture with her pet monkey and dog, the bizarre and out-of-a-Stephen-King-novel trees at the Empress Hotel and, of course, flowers, more trees and more water.

If I was a really talented photographer like my dear friend, Minnasusanne, I would be selling my work on my own new site! Minna put together a collection of amazing photos that she’s taken, friends have taken, old family photos and put them in postcard books – or single cards! Take a look for yourself – these cards are stunning and I don’t say that because Minna is a rare find in this online friends world. Go look and if you like what you see, please patronize her new enterprise!

For reasons unknown, I can’t get the link to show up on WordPress. Please copy and paste: http://minorpostcards.fi/recent-events/minor-postcards-web-store-opened.

Hugs, Minna and good luck!

October always seems like a big month for me and my family. I start this one with a bit of surgery – nothing major – and then we have aforementioned football games along with some birthdays to celebrate. The month truly closes out the summer and the autumn feel flows though opened doors and windows. Our arboretum has an amazing pumpkin patch of many species in the gourd family. I believe there are as many as 50,000 on the grounds. People are already putting out Halloween decorations with more to come as the days pass.

The month not only brought some cooler weather, but even cooler cards in my mailbox! As always, they cover the spectrum of touristy to my-side-hurts-from-laughing funny. I believe you’ll get a chuckle or two and be amazed at all the trees and water on our little planet.

Enjoy and I look forward to spending a moment with you after Halloween!

With hugs,
Michelle

Stunning September
Sent in September

July and August – They Just Did a “Flyby”

•September 8, 2012 • 1 Comment

Two months gone. Summer ending (in some places but it’s still hanging on in Texas). Going into September and October in Texas means football (not soccer – football), school zones and a little bit of color in the trees. July and August are truly a blur – most of the time spent preparing for trip to Canada, the actual trip to Canada and Post-Canada depression!

During 2012, our Postcrossing groups came to know a particularly brave, sweet young woman from The Netherlands. Her name was Sophie Jacobi. In late spring or early summer, we became aware that Sophie was very sick. She was born with many respiratory problems including COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) which was genetically inherited. We sent her cards and small gifts to try to bring a smile, but it was Sophie who made us smile. She underwent very dangerous surgery and made it through. The tragic fact was that she needed a lung transplant and one never came in time. Sophie died August 22nd. She was 26 years old.

Sophie will remain with those of us who knew her as a bright, kind and hope-filled spirit. She represented bravery in fighting her diseases and humility in truly accepting the things she could not change. But Sophie did change all of us. I have a photo of her with a small gift I sent. I’ll treasure that photo and just looking at it reminds me how very important it is to be an organ donor if you can. She taught me to take nothing for granted.

She reminded me of Randy Pausch, the author of “The Last Lecture.” He wrote the book knowing he was dying of cancer. Like Sophie, he faced each day no matter how hard it was. He looked forward, not back, and neither asked, “Why me?” One thing he said stays with me:

“It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.”

That quote leads me to sharing a poem I discovered in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, at an art exhibition of Emily Carr’s work. It was something she wrote in 1924 just days before a friend’s major surgery. I read it just a few days after Sophie died, not knowing she was gone, but feeling overwhelming certainty she’d left us when I was reading this poem. Here is a bit of it:

Dream Garden

To me the dream was this.
It was the garden of my dear friend’s soul.
High walled by quiet and loving deeds
Done quietly by her day by day for man and beast.
The Fountain, – ah! At that she drinks,
And in the shadows cool and quiet she walks with God.
And what about the tunnel. Lo! To every soul some shadows come.
But she hath naught to fear in this dark spot
Tis but one moment ere she turns and finds
The sunshine gleaming thru the other arch
And her dear garden fair all bright agleam with flowers before her.
And so I slowly climbed the stair
It was not mine this garden
I dare not linger there.
~Emily Carr

One late afternoon in Jasper, Alberta Canada, after a brief rainfall, my sister-in-law, Dianne, and I watched a rainbow form on the left of the horizon. As the minutes passed, the rainbow grew wider and arched higher toward the skies. As it made its way to the right horizon, an amazing thing happened – it became a double rainbow of the most brilliant colors we had ever seen. It was an experience that made you incapable of speech or even thought. You could only absorb the strength and beauty.

That made it a wonderful trip.

Hugs,
Michelle

My July & August Inbox!
Going Out in July/August
From Sophie

I think I lost June

•July 22, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Some months it’s just best to bid them goodbye and don’t look back. That was June for me. And just when I thought it was getting really bad, something amazing happened. Friends of mine and folks who are in my Postcrossing round robin groups began sending me RAS (Random Acts of Smiles) cards. First a couple and I thought, “That’s really nice.”

Every day brought more, and more still and more after more! I’ve received cards from a huge number of countries – all with the theme “We Love You, Michelle.” Wow. I mean WOW. Beautiful cards, funny cards, cards that make you immediately Google the person/place/thing. Some came in handmade envelopes that were carefully opened as not to ruin them and others arrived with the most amazing stamps.

And they all contained the kindest thoughts, quotes and feeling from people I know and many of their friends who sent just because they thought I needed a “cheering up.” Three special people organized this outpouring of kindness – Andy from the UK, Rose from Canada and Ines from Germany. Such caring is to be embraced and cherished.

My family’s “radar” kicked in and once again, they came to the aid of the “kid” sister! So June slipped off the calendar and July has been full of support and encouragement. Most of the time I don’t understand life, but I’ve learned to enjoy the good when it’s hanging around my neighborhood.

My trip to Canada is now only a month away. I’m excited, but nervous. Can I really stay away from a computer for 10 days? I guess we will find out. I do know that I am looking forward to the cooler weather! Will be hard to come back to a baked Texas!

Special thoughts and prayers go to Sophie, Christine and Rebecca. I wish upon a star for all of you every night!

I can’t close without saying that my heart and love go to the families of the victims of the Aurora, Colorado, and the Ontario Mall shootings. Senseless, tragic and not to be explained in a form you and I can possibly understand because we aren’t wired with cold, evil, twisted patterns in our brains. Instead, we are wired to remember those lost and those changed forever.

Please enjoy the cards – I know I did!

Hugs,
Michelle

My June Comings
My June Goings

May’s postcards – in and out!

•June 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Oh, some days you just forget the little things!

May's Magical Moments
My May Outbox

May went where??

•June 10, 2012 • 2 Comments

So many happenings in May that it flew by and seems like it was last year!

In my postcard world there was a lot of work and some fun, too! My good friend Aurora (and person responsible for my addiction) and I went to a postcard and vintage exhibit/sale. It was a postcardholic’s dream. Tables everywhere all full to the edges with boxes and boxes of older and vintage postcards and magazines. Just as responsible gamblers do, I took only a certain amount of cash and went through it in about an hour.

There was not a topic that wasn’t somewhere on those tables. I did learn that the next time we go (in the fall), I must start with the tables that all cards are only 10 cents or a quarter. One of those sellers told us he had sold 900 cards to ONE PERSON earlier. Not a typo. Two zeros after the 9. I felt much better about my spending after that! He had some terrific early Coca Cola cards. My, my – Coke certainly was a little sexier in their advertising earlier in their corporate history – of course this card was intended for international advertising. That’s still true today for almost all US corporations – especially fragrance and fashion.

Coca Cola ca. 1950

By the way, for you postcard enthusiasts, what do you think of this possible card?

Potential postcard?

The story is pretty strange. That is one of multiple photos I took of the Venice Carnival mural that my parents had painted on the living room wall when they built the house over 50 years ago! I’ve loved it my whole life and dreamed of going to such a fabulous place with exciting people dressed in such beautiful costumes. I was just looking at it one day (I don’t know why – I wasn’t dusting the buffet in front of it) when it occurred to me to see how photos of different parts of it would look. I love it, but am wondering if anyone else would like it.

I’m almost through reading the John Lennon book and I’m almost sorry I read it. It has completely blown up every fairy tale fed to us about all of the Beatles. If you ask me now who the most human of the four was, I’d tell you George Harrison followed by Ringo. Wow – the McCartney/Lennon “partnership” was amazing in that they wrote anything together. John’s childhood was worse than I ever knew, but he was someone who chose to repeat the past with his first wife, Cynthia, and their son, Julian. Now I want to read HER books.

The book is also very tedious if you aren’t familiar with the actual recording process – tracks, looping, etc. The author is very fond of long narrative about those processes on every Beatles’ album – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

It was interesting that as I’m finishing the horror of John Lennon (they’re in NY now – he is somewhat redeeming himself), I watched the documentary “Buck.” It just mesmerized me. Buck was the inspiration for Robert Redford’s character in the movie “The Horse Whisperer.” The man is the polar opposite to Lennon. His childhood was far, far worse and he chose to learn from it and never, ever fall victim to it. His magic with horses is real. The reason is deceptively simple. He respects them. As any mother can “feel” her child’s emotion as he or she goes from infant to toddler, he “feels” a horse’s move.

He chose to respect the goodness of people, too. His career is a marvel and his total commitment to his family is heartening. At the end of the movie, as the credits were rolling, a song was playing that I could understand just enough of to cry – in a cathartic way. I looked it up and was blown away to read that it was a Pearl Jam song. Not any Pearl Jam I remember! Here is a link, but I’m aware that some German readers won’t be able to access it. The name of the song is “Just Breathe.”

If you hover over the photo, a menu bar will show at the top right. Click on “more info” for the lyrics.

Lots went on at work, but nothing I want to dwell upon. Corporate life is something I’m very anxious to leave in my past.

One last thought. I light a candle and say a prayer for my friend, Deborah’s, mother who died peacefully at the end of this week. That is about all any of us can ask for.

Enjoy the cards and, I hope, the song.

As always – with hugs,
Michelle

 
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