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It's Not So Hard to Make Magic

Loudoun rock

Just about a month ago, my lovely daughter and I hit up Luckett's to do a bit of dreaming, meandering, and hopefully snagging some bargains during their annual "Groundhog Day" sale. 

With an armful of successes tucked into shopping bags, Kara headed for the car to do a quick drop off; we'd meet up inside the store itself. My knees absolutely hate steps at places like this; the inclines are steep, and my knees protest the goings on. So, I stopped to mentally tell myself it really was no big deal - and it isn't! - and took a few seconds to just look at the treasures lining the steps and porch.

If you know Luckett's at all, you know that stuff is everywhere. 

Good stuff. Junky stuff. 

Stuff at incredible bargains right along side stuff that makes you wonder who'd ever buy it. 

I can, and do spend, hours photographing all the stuff. Little vignettes are everywhere, and I never know where to look first.

Thank you, Luckett's, for letting me do this; far too many places don't.

So, back to those steps. Girded for battle, I reached out to grab the railing, and came eye to eye with the neatest little rock ever.

And, I knew exactly why it was sitting on that railing. 

I had found...insert drum roll here...an honest to goodness Loudoun Rock! If you clickety click on this link, you'll see that Loudoun Rocks have been dubbed the new Pokémon Go. Folks living in Loudoun County, VA, get themselves some rocks and some paint, sit down and decorate the rocks, and then go out and hide them all over the county. Just for fun. Just to make people smile.

If you're lucky enough to find a Loudoun Rock, you can leave it alone for someone else to find, or take it, and then hide it someplace new for someone else to find.

I tucked it into my pocket, smiling at my new little treasure.

Full disclosure: it's now sitting on a shelf in my dining room. It probably will never find its way back to Loudoun County again.

I don't know who painted my rock. It might be part of a family project, or maybe a youth group. It might have been a teen or a housewife.

But, whomever painted it; they made some magic for me. They made magic with just a bit of time, paint, markers, and a rock. No big bucks involved here.

A connection was made from one person in Loudoun County to one lady from Fairfax County. We most likely don't know each other, and I suspect we never will. But someone took a few minutes in their day to create smiles in mine. 

An online friend of mine digs up tiny old bottles, cleans them up, adds a poem and a flower to them, and then " releases them into the wild." Take a few minutes to read John Greenwood's posts here on "Raining Iguanas." Wouldn't you love to find a tiny beauty like this? Pure magic and joy, yours for the taking. Again, it cost little in the way of cash, just a bit of time and ingenuity. A spirit of generosity. I know that John's created a ton of magic and joy.

And, then there's the Art Abandonment Project, where all sorts of people leave treasures for others to find. Guaranteed joy. Guaranteed magic.

We need more of this; we just do. 

Connections made, one person to another rather than labeling, name calling, arguing and more. 

Strangers touching each others' lives in the best of ways.

So, make some art and release it. Write a postcard or letter to someone for no reason at all other than to create some magic. Leave a book somewhere with a note inside, telling its finder that it's theirs to keep and enjoy.

As John would say, "Be the reason that someone smiles today."  





Never Ready, Never Done

Bowl on table

This morning, I listened to a "Love Letter" from Meghan Genge, cohost along with Jamie Ridler, of Love Letters, a series of 32 messages on creativity and more. I have to confess that I've gotten really picky about these free events, since way too many of them end up promoting what they have to sell more than anything else. Jamie is a different story...she generously shares so much good stuff.

Meghan's video chat drew me in immediately; her message one that I've heard many a time in one form or another. But, it never hurts to hear it again, to be reminded of what I know, but I too often forget. 

"You're never ready; you're never done."

I can be the master of excuses at putting creativity off. My mind has so many tabs open: photography, writing, slow stitch, mixed media. I can't begin to tell you how much I've created - in my mind that is. I wake during the night composing a blog entry, working out a photo, and more. Trouble is I'm way too good at finding reasons that I'm not ready. I need my dslr, not my phone. I need my "To Do List" to disappear, because what's on there is way too important and really should be done first, done before I sit down to create. I get in my own way. 

Never done. I do this one well. I love to learn, to research, to explore. As I finish up something, another idea pops into my too many tabs opened mind. It might be a "better" way to do what I've done. It might be something brand new. I'm not idea challenged, but when I sit down to write, the little gremlin, aka inner critic, whispers, "Really? Why bother?" and then gives me a laundry list of why I shouldn't bother, and oh, yeah, remember all that stuff you need to do? Like laundry?

Meghan's advice: Just begin. Just take one step. Then, take another. Yeah, I know this, but again, it's just good to hear it, to be reminded.

I've been working through a mindful photography course with Julie Fischer MeCarter, whose work never fails to inspire. One assignment this week asked us to take a meaningful object and photography it outside of its normal surroundings. I chose my mother's blue bowl, aka the "Cookie Bowl."

Bowl on path

Julie asked us to go with whatever popped into our heads, that it would be the right choice. 

And I thought, that cookie bowl is too big to be lugging around. Besides, it's too cold to go outside.

Sigh. That damn inner critic.

So, yesterday, I woke up to a gorgeous sunrise and the most beautiful light outside my window. Out I went in a fuzzy blue art making stained bathrobe, my phone, a pair of slippers, and at the very last minute grabbed the bowl. 

Exiting through our back room door, I stopped dead. 

Well, crap, it's morning rush hour and I live immediately off of one of Virginia's busiest roads. Not only are there thousands of commuters driving by, but the middle school busses passed by as well.

And, I was the crazy lady in her bathrobe making photos of a bowl. Well, if nothing else, I'd provide a bit of conversation for a lot of folks. 

Bowl in leaves

It's not pretty outside right now, not unless you happen to love brown. I happen not to, finding it a pretty depressing color. Looking around I spotted a grungy looking moose (dog toy), also brown. A few tennis balls, the toy car the twits drive, but not one thing I could see to do with the bowl.

I wanted my dslr (never ready!) but knew if I went back inside, I probably wouldn't come out. I knew I'd get some great shots if I laid flat on the ground...uhm, no. Not going to happen. Virginia's commuters and middle schoolers already had enough to talk about. Besides, that ground is cold!

Leaves. I had lots and lots of leaves. I also had a meandering stone path that would make for great leading lines. 

I went for both, and quickly at that. When I'm shivering, it's hard to get things focused the way I like.

In the end, despite the not readys, I ended up with some cool shots. I can only imagine what my mom would be thinking. You filled the cookie bowl with dead leaves? Girl, you need to see the doctor. 

I love this bowl; it holds memories more than leaves. 

I love my shots; I know what I'd like to try next (never done!), and it will involve lying on the ground and my big girl camera. 

I love how I learned to look at the bowl differently; placing it out of context does that.

I love the stories my photos tell.

I like that I did some thinking "outside the box." 

Most of all, I like that I didn't just write this in my head.


Straight Down the Rabbit...Er, Pinhole


Check out my nifty new camera! Is it not just gorgeous? Top of the line paint can, er, pinhole camera, and I had an absolute blast with it, thanks to my most awesomely talented cousin, Therese's and her pinhole workshop. (Follow the link for some photos and a description of the fun.)

Picture about 9 or so women, most of us with no experience using this technology, but all of us anxious to learn. Therese gave us a bit of history, examples of pinhole photographs, a handout with technical info, and then the fun began.

She led us upstairs into a darkened room, with what looked like a huge brown trash bag taped over the window. In reality, it was some sort of light blocking photo paper. One tiny hole in the "trash bag" admitted a tiny bit of light into the room.

We ringed the outside edges of the room, waiting for our eyes to adjust. Ever so slowly, an upside down image began to appear...the house, trees, and yard across the street. Lots of oooohs, ahhhs, and excited talking.

Basically,we all had gone "down the pinhole" and straight into the inside of a camera obscura! In other words, we stood inside a camera, seeing an image the way it would see it, and I loved it!

Back downstairs, where Therese issued our new paint cans, cameras, explained how to load the paper, work the "shutter" or black tape covering the pinhole, and about how long to expose the photo, which, turned out to be a real guessing game.

Before letting us out, she took us into the dark room, another new experience for me, and we talked through the four steps of what we needed to do - photo developing solution, a solution that halted the developing process, a solution that that fixed everything, and then a water rinse. This room was DARK, only lit by a few red bulbs.

Then, out we went, scouting for things to shoot...pine cones, ourselves ( pinhole selfies!), prayer flags, etc. Eventually, we shot the skeleton residing on Therese's porch, ultimately dragging him into the bright sunshine.

Go out, shoot, come back in, enter the darkroom cautiously. We didn't want to let light in at the critical moment, nor did we want to bump into or step on each other. The light into dark business took some adjusting.

We dropped the paper into the developer and held our breath. Some photos came out pitch black (over exposed), some came out nearly white (underexposed), both which elicited groans and a few mild oaths, but every now and then we got something really cool, which resulted in shrieks of delight.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Inevitably, we lost track of watching the clock, which threw off the timing of it all. No matter, we just kept playing. One type of paper gave us a negative print, the other a direct print. It turned our that each type required different timing, both with exposure and developing.

For me, I learned to totally surrender control. With digital, the result is instant. I can see if I got the shot or not, then adjust accordingly, right on the spot. With a pinhole, I did a lot of estimating both when shooting, and then again with developing. My images had a softer and definitely less focused feel, and since I wasn't looking through a view finder, I could only guess at what the camera saw. I had quite a few surprises!

Even though I ended with precious few "good" shots, I loved it all, the newness of it, Therese's unflappability in dealing with all these women needing help, the learning curve - just all of it. I want to do more.

If I stick with the pinhole camera I brought home, I need stuff I don't have - a dark room, chemicals, so on. If I get really brave, I can buy a more elaborate pinhole camera, use film, and travel back into time, when I sent away the film and had to wait for it to come back to see what I got. I can see it happening, folks!

So, thank you Therese, just thank you and I'm hoping for more workshops on cyanotypes and lumen prints. I'd gladly pay to repeat a pinhole workshop, because I'm so obviously at the start of a learning curve.

Holding Space for Others

Red thread

Laundry tumbles in my dryer; towels wait to be folded and stashed in the linen closet.

Paper, glue, fabrics, pens, and other assorted art make stuff hides my studio floor. More stacks of it play the "Leaning Tower of Pisa" act on my tables.

Meat needs to be repackaged into smaller portions and frozen for later use.

But in the midst of all of this mess, this entering back into reality, I'm playing with photos, catching up a bit on Facebook posts, and just figuring out how to move through my day without losing the magic of these past few days.

In between the busy-ness of today, I've flipped through most Facebook posts, just trying to get a sense of what's been happening out on the interwebs, but now and then, something begs to be read more carefully. Barbara Techel's "On Being a Space Keeper" was one of those. Barbara writes so beautifully about holding space for others, letting them "discover and uncover what is right for them." I smiled as I read and re-read her words; she's managed to capture what I've been living for the last several days, the last several weeks, really.

We need our safe spaces, the people that listen to us, encourage us, and help us to believe our creativity needs to come into being. They don't judge, tell us we need to be doing something differently, let us figure things out on our own, gently offering help if asked. You can read a bit more here.

I spent the last 5 days with an amazing group of women, gathered in Maryland's mountains at Lesley Riley's Red Thread Retreat. We talked, laughed, drank wine, ate amazing meals, and created art books with Nina Bagley. At the beginning of the retreat, Lesley put one rule into place, "No talk of politics." I can't begin to describe the relief when that negative energy disappeared.

Workshops ran from 9 to 5, more or less. We broke for amazing lunches, wonderful nourishing food delivered to the main house. At any time, people wandered off to walk in the woods or along the river, gather leaves, or just be alone for a few moments. Nina encouraged us to take chances, to explore new techniques and methods. If you forgot a supply, you just asked. Someone was bound to have it and offer it freely.

And, here's the big deal: we all got along; no alpha leaders emerged. We simply helped each other on the journey, encouraging, offering help if needed...holding space for each other.

Evenings brought wine, beer, snacks, and lively discussions. More amazing food appeared at dinner, and we took turns cleaning up. No one needed to create a schedule; we simply got it done. A few of us wandered off to get massages.

And, now, I sit typing, trying to put it all into words, and pretty much failing. So few people truly hold space for each other. We seem to have tumbled into a mad world of too much anger, too much judging. I'm tired of political rants from both parties, of rude and uncivil people trying to cram their beliefs down my throat and/or making each political candidate to be the devil come back to life. I avoid it as much as I can, but it's pretty damn hard to miss all of it. If we all just held space for each other, could you imagine the change?

As Barbara writes, "Holding space, sitting in silence with my soul, praying for peace for our world, that energy then moves out into our troubled world."

Please, go read what Barbara wrote. Sit with it for awhile, think about at least one person you could "hold space" for and then do it.

Really, truly, go do it.

It's wonderful. I know it, because I lived it.

Thank you, Lesley, Barbara, and all my Red Thread friends,  for everything.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Permission to Do Less


Sometimes, I do myself in; there's just no two ways about it. I create work where there doesn't need to be work.

It's all in the name of being creative, and in some ways, people's expectations. For the last several years, I've participated in Jennifer Belthoff's Love Notes. I do it because I love snail mail, and because I love creating snail mail. I love sending it, and I love receiving it.

In Love Notes, we send 3 postcards over the course of 3 weeks to a partner. Each week comes with a prompt, and for 3 weeks, my mailbox and I smile in delight.

Here's where I make work for myself: I decided my post cards needed to be hand made. No store bought post cards for me, no sir. It began easily enough, 3 postcards, tiny little 4" X 6" works of art. Sometimes, I opted to create note cards, not post cards, but still, easy enough.

And, along the way, it snow balled. Not only did I send my little works of art off to the current partner, but I sent them to past partners as well, as well as some newly made online friends. And, then to my sister, Denise. And then...

Well, I'm up to 20 pieces of art each week. Yikes!

Really, I love it...well, when I'm home to create, I do. This past week found me in Vermont for 6 days. I came home on Tuesday, did my laundry on Wednesday, and packed yesterday and today for a 4 day art retreat.

The stress levels began to climb, climb some more, and well, I may have been on top of Hogback Mountain with my stress. My art room looks like Hurricane Matthew has come and gone, plus which, I needed to be packing the supplies I'd be using.

Even if I worked non stop for this last day and a half, 20 handmade post cards would not be happening.

My pride / ego got a bit bruised; no one would be marveling on line at my creations.

Yet, here's the kicker. I didn't need to be creating 20 pieces of art; that's not what Love Notes is about. It's about connecting with people; it's about bringing happiness to someone once a week for three weeks. It is NOT about my art or my ego.

I've packed my ego away for the time being; 20 beautiful Vermont post cards are going out into the world. 20 gorgeous images of Vermont in the fall, with those wonderful bright reds, oranges, and yellows. 20 post cards with messages written to bring delight.

The best part? I'm okay with this letting go of stress I've put on myself. I'm okay with realizing I can't do this all the time.

There will be post cards going out next week, as time is limited there as well. Probably, I'll do something handmade the last week; I do love the creating and the joy my tiny creations bring.

But, if not, that's okay as well because like I said, it's not about me. It's not about my art.

It's about connecting, and Lord knows, that's something we need in our crazy world.

So Much Laughter


Snippets of conversation,

Silverware clinking,

diners tucked into tiny booths.

Bright lights overhead countering gloomy skies outside.

Words flowed as the four of us found our places, eyes skimming a menu we knew so well; we hadn't been here in months, maybe even a year. But, we knew it well this place, eating here before PTO meetings, springtime concerts, and more.

We passed around the Iphones, sharing photos of new grandchildren, growing grandchildren, and a condo with a wealth of boxes waiting to be unpacked.

Challenges of caring for aging parents,

memories of former students,

and each of us missing the teaching, the kids,

but not missing the paperwork, lesson planning, and grading.

Four women, reconnecting with each others' lives, and laughing, laughing, laughing.

One, a former nuclear physics engineer and instructor at the naval academy, then moving onto teaching middle school science, and now happily creating gorgeous jewelry and doing tech work at local theaters.

Another, finishing up her last year of teaching, and looking forward to her new job at a rectory, keeping the assigned pastor organized.

The third with her doctorate in special education and a wealth of years as a learning specialist, now cherishing grandchildren scattered across the world.

And, one of us, having left the world of math and ancient history, moving on to writing, journaling, photography, grandkids, and more.

Some of us gray, some of us helped by Miss Clairol.

Some of us trim, others needing to lose a few pounds.

Some of us single; some of us married for a good many years.

All of us in transition, finding our places in this second half of our lives.

The worlds' problems and politics got left by the wayside; it was the reconnecting and catching up with personal lives that mattered. We seemed to hop, skip, and jump among our different lives. I suspect our conversation made very little sense to anyone listening, but we could follow the jumbled varied strings seamlessly.

Each time we meet, we chat less about the school and the students that brought us together. That part of our lives will forever remain important, but it's fading. There's simply too much else happening, too much else to be shared.

There's laughter and hugs...so much laughter and so many hugs.

This time together is important; the realities and losses in our lives remind us that we won't always have this time.

So, we make the best of it.

We savor the food, but we savor the conversation more.

Four women in the second half of their lives...wise crones, each of us, knowing what's important - our friendship, our connections, both old and new. It's the husbands, the grandbabies, the new careers, the nieces and nephews, the aging parents demanding our care.

It's love, hugs, and laughter.

It's letting go of old hurts, of jobs that defined us for so long, and simply delighting in what's here now, and what's to come.

It's exploring new things and places.

So, we talk.

We hug.

We laugh...oh, do we laugh!

Living the Second Half


I'm continuing to turn the camera on me - not always directly, but the intent is to figure out what's going on inside of me, to examine my life a bit, which is not always pleasant, but never boring!

I've just started a class, "Living the Second Half" with Glen McKerrihan, perfect for me, since I'm probably in the last quarter if anything. It promises to be intriguing, not only in the sense that I'm examining my life, and where I hope to go with it, but I'm also stretching as a photographer and at times, a writer.

Like most of us, I'm a bit surprised when I look into the mirror. When did I turn into my mother and my aunt? And, where in God's good name, did those neck wrinkles come from? This peek doesn't cause despair; it just startles me. I've earned those wrinkles and more.

Plus...I'm digging this part of my life. I'm more secure in myself, in what's important to me, and what's not. I've learned to say "no" more, but I'm also saying "yes" to new things, to new ways of doing things. And, I'm doing some pruning, cutting away branches in order to let in the light. I need the light in so many ways, and I think I'll be forever stretching toward it.

I'm finding it that it's okay to not always meet everyone's expectations; battles might be the result, but so far, I've survived. Not everyone is happy, and that's okay, too.

I'm dancing with the winds of change, but I'm still rooted in what's important.

I'm learning to use my minutes wisely, spending them as I like, creating, laughing with my twits, reading good books, exploring new places and ideas.

'Cause, you know - I've got a lot of life to live! I plan to lean into it, and embrace it with arms wide open to the possibilities of it all.



Self portrait day 1

I don't know how many times I went back and forth.

Yes, I will.

No, I won't.

Yes, I will.

And, at the 11th hour, with time and my chances rapidly disappearing into the the land of "I Wish I Had," I did it. I signed up, sent off the Pay Pal payment, and I wondered just what I was getting myself into.

I don't like selfies; I feel completely and utterly ridiculous taking them. Too much drumming into my mind during childhood that this sort of thing smacks of putting yourself first, above others. It's not at all humble.

I did it anyway. If I am going to figure out why I hate myself in photos so darn much, I had to do a bit of inner probing. Other than it going against the pounded into my head idea of humility, what else is going on here? I knew I needed a safe spot, somewhere where the words could accompany the photograph, and no one would judge, at least aloud.

You're looking at day 1's self portrait. Notice that it's a portrait, not a selfie, and that's key. I'm shooting with intent, not just recording a moment in time. I am going to be doing this for 10 days, with weekends off for good behavior! To be honest, the weekends serve as a bit of a rest, a catching up if needed.

I'm on a learning curve here, so be patient. "Self Portraiture as Medicine" is being led by the lovely and amazingly talented Catherine Just, a conceptual photographer based in Los Angeles. I began exploring conceptual photography, where the photo illustrates an idea, not such an easy thing to do sometimes, but I think that's why it fascinates me so much. Can I do this and do it somewhat well? I'm still not sure yet, but to quote a recent blog entry, "I'm not there yet, but I'm farther than I was yesterday."

I really am in an in between sort of place at the moment, letting go of certain people and things, certain expectations that I either can't meet or no longer wish to meet. Some sort of shift is happening, a really good one, I think. It's a bit exhausting and a bit frightening, but at the same time pretty darn exhilarating! I'm moving toward something good.

And, so this first day's portrait, a rather early morning one at that, and a result of letting go of expectations.

I meant to take advantage of the morning light, hoping for that beautiful soft diffused glow.

Instead, I got more of a harsh light, and boy, did I get shadows.

I almost quit right there; it didn't look promising having difficulty from the get go.

Unexpectedly, something clicked. I realized that my Iphone's shadow created a perfect mask; my camera is what I always hide behind, and when I can't be behind the camera, I do my very best at hiding in the photo somewhere, maybe a corner, maybe behind someone tall.

And, even though it masks me, you can still see my eyes. I'm beginning to look out at you, to meet your gaze, and most of all to look inside of me.

My mouth; kind of bizarre, isn't it? Yet, kinda pretty darn cool. For so very long, I've kept my mouth shut, following the rules and guidelines because that's what good girls do. I always did take pride in being the good girl.

I'm beginning to open it more and more, not just to spout off, but to say my piece when I think it's important. Not in an ugly way or an unkind way, but yes, I'll say it. Sometimes, no matter how carefully I try, i set off the beginnings of World War 3.  So, this bizarre half gone mouth fits in its own strange way.

I don't know that I "like" this portrait, but I know that it sings power of some sort. It tends to make me a bit uncomfortable; it's not the sort of photo that makes someone gasp in delight. That's okay; it's saying what I need it to say.

So, I'm diving in deep and taking a chance here; I'm completely on a learning curve. Some of these self portraits will work, some won't. I'm going to show them anyway. I've always thought that we need to share more of our "mistakes," that no matter the artist, the writer, the photographer, there will be mistakes. I really believe that our mistakes let others hope a bit; we're not quite so cowed anymore.

Bear with me; come along for the journey. I'll be leaving many details of the class blank; people paid for it, and I have no wish or right to give it away for free.

I hope we all learn something; I hope we all enjoy the ride.

And, I hope we're all closer today to where we want to be than we were yesterday.

In the Company of a Remarkable Woman


She stood there in the October sunlight, a portrait of strength and vulnerability, and very simply, she commanded my attention. A background hum of introductions buzzed in my ears, but I didn't take in the words. My eyes were locked on Pamela Rickenbach, as she waited her turn to speak.

And, then she began, and she captured my heart completely. She took me back into time, speaking so eloquently of horses - their place along side us, how they built our country with their physical strength and endurance. Back even more, to the story of Alexander and his horse.

I read a question somewhere else earlier..."How do you stay brave?" The answer a very bright and sweet young girl gave, "With the help of my friends." Not so long ago, Pamela lost her partner, and it's clear that she's very much still grieving, and indeed, Pamela's friends gathered around her with love and support. They continue to do so.

But, I think, in Pamela's case, it's more. Pamela gathers her strength and her courage for her horses, and to honor Paul, her partner. Pamela speaks for her horses, who can not speak for themselves, at least with words. (But, if you're still enough, you can hear their heart words.) She draws you into their world; she makes you want to stay there, to help as well.

I need to tell you that I am not the little girl who spent her life on horses, no riding lessons, no close proximity to them. A bit later in life, I fell in love with the Chincoteague ponies for a few days each summer. And, for most of my life, I've watched the Amish horses trot by on the back roads of home.

But, I didn't "know" horses, not the way so many young girls and women do. The horses lived very much on the edges of my life.

Pamela brought them into my life; she's opened up my heart to their lives - past, present, and future. She's brought them front and center for me to learn and care about, to find a way to help them, and to honor them. To realize how they and their ancestors built our country, and that they will continue to partner with humans in any way they can, if we give them the chance.

I nearly cropped this photo; its lower part's a bit faded and blown out. But, then I saw it, the rainbow in the lower left section. That beautiful gorgeous rainbow. I think know that Paul stood beside her that afternoon, giving her the strength and love to speak for her horses.

Pamela co-founded Blue Star Equiculture a non profit working horse rescue and sanctuary.


On the Road You Travel


The Love Notes are on their way!

For quite awhile now, I've participated in Jennifer Belthoff's Love Notes Project. To quote Jenny, all you need is:

  • 3 postcards
  • 3 stamps
  • An open heart!

Each Sunday, participants get their prompt and messages can written. By Thursday, the postcards are in the mail, and everyone is watching their mailbox.

So much fun - I love snail mail!

Sunday's prompt? "On the road you travel, you will find..."

Postcards can be bought, can be hand created, or anywhere in between. It's the message that counts.

I enjoy creating mine, using my photography, and my unending stash of supplies. I really am working very hard on buying little and instead, making what I have work.

I found the photo first; it's one taken at Luckett's, a favorite place of mine. There are always odds and ends of all sorts on the grounds, including the poor rusted car you see above. That car is now down to one door, which I, of course, photographed! I do love rusted stuff...it's the mixed media artist in me.

I sized, printed, and glued my photos to cards. (I enjoy sending notes to previous Love Notes' partners as well.) Then, I looked at the glaring empty space at the bottom. There was always Washi Tape, but I wanted something different, so I started to dig.

Found it...one rather dated "Manual for Drivers and Compendium of the Motor Vehicle and Traffic Laws" as published by Trenton, NJ. (I do pick up the oddest things at flea markets, and how do you like that for a title?)

You can see some of the illustrations above. Cool, right?

And, as I glued them down, and I burnished them well, I got to thinking how perfect they were, as was the photo I shot.

Flat tires...yes, there are going to be some of those in life. You need to be prepared if you're going to get moving again.

Old people should be given special consideration. Yes, yes, yes. Lots of wisdom there, folks, if we just stop to listen. (And, I am not just saying that because I happen to be heading in the direction of "old.")

Signal your intentions. Oh, for sure. How many arguments and misunderstandings occur in life because we "THINK" we know what the other person/driver is going to do?

Keep your parts in working order. We too often take our bodies for granted, right? Nourish them well, and they'll be far more efficient.

Steer into the skid. We all end up in life's skids. In fact, life has dealt me more skids that my car ever has. Steer with the skid...go with what life is dealing at the moment. Eventually things straighten out.

Always stop for certain vehicles (cop car, ambulance, etc.) Yup, sometimes, we are dealt some "stops." Death, illness, or on a far better note, our kids wanting our attention. Quite simply, we have to stop. Our life, our plans get put on hold for the time being.

And, there are more wonderful little clipped illustrations piled next to me. But, you get the idea, I think.

So, thank you Trenton, NJ, and thank you, Jenny Belthoff!