Friday, October 20, 2017

Looking for Fall

We took a short trip up into the Ouachita mountains in Arkansas hoping for some beautiful fall color; unfortunately, the area has been enduring a drought and the color was drastically limited.  On the way up, we noticed how dry everything was, then we started to see all of the "Burn Ban" signs.  

We stayed at the Mt. Magazine Lodge which offered an amazing view, friendly staff, and excellent food.   We did a lot of walking on paved paths and hiked several of the mountain trails on offer.  Mornings and evenings were cold and windy, but during the days, the weather was that perfect fall crispness that we look forward to after our hot and humid Louisiana summers.


Mt. Magazine is the highest peak in Arkansas, and we hiked up Signal Hill to reach the highest point on the mountain.  It wasn't that much higher than the lodge, but the trail spiraled up (thankfully--the spiral kept the incline just steep enough to be challenging and that was plenty for me).   When I checked my Fitbit after an afternoon of hiking a couple of trails, I was surprised to see we had "climbed" 47 flights of stairs.

We met a young woman at the lodge whose goal is to climb the highest peak in each state.  I thought that was an intriguing goal, so when we got home I did a little research.  Here is a link to the highest elevation in each state--and boy, is there a lot of variation!  Mt. Deanli in Alaska is 20, 320 ft. high and Britton Hill in Florida is only 345 ft. high.  

You can see mountains in every direction from the lodge.

Shortly after sunrise, the valley is covered in fog and the lake in billowy clouds.

Another nice thing was getting away from the daily influx of bad news.  We watched the local news from Fayetteville at 5:00 AM, but turned off the national news.  We rarely checked our phones.  Change of scene, change of habit.   

The effort that goes into preserving the flora and fauna of the area is impressive, and even this late in the year, there were butterflies visiting the pollinator gardens even though most of the plants were long past their summer glory.  

I want to visit again in the spring or early summer to see the plants in bloom and the diverse population of butterflies the Mount Magazine State Park is known for.  

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Laughter Is the Best Medicine

Events in the 6-8 weeks have been depressing, and like many others, I have been unsettled and feeling a combination of sadness and anxiety.  Looking for things that make me laugh has become important.  



This funny twitter battle between staff at the Science and Natural History Museums in London was clever and funny.

On a weekend trip to Natchez, Mississippi, this sign made me feel better about my meal.  

And among the beautiful old buildings downtown and the lovely Victorian homes and cottages, the sight of this house...  :)

What else raises my spirits?

Incoming Mail:
from Penny B.  :)
 from Jacque
 from Connie
 from Penne M.
from Suzi
with her handmade paper on the card :)

Outgoing:
 first Halloween mail


Most of my Halloween Eccentrics are out.  Finding a place to put them is the problem. I didn't make any more this year.  I'm not sure why because I still love the whimsy of Halloween characters, but my creative energy has been way down this year.  

These are some pics from last year.




I've been making some Halloween mail art though, which is fun, and I have a few letters to answer.  
Books

I read like some people eat chocolate or potato chips.  One book right after another; it is an addiction.  September only saw one book that genuinely rose above the pack:  Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke.  It is not a comfortable book in many ways, but it resonated with me on several levels.  I loved the protagonist, recognized the location (generally), was intrigued with the plot, and loved the writing.

What have you been reading lately?  






Saturday, September 02, 2017

Mail and Stuff

Catching up on some snail mail from the end of August.

Incoming
Annie's lovely envelopes from calendars and children's books always make me smile.

From another Annie (Freezeframe), this wonderful
postcard featuring an old library card!
How many times did I read Little Women when I was a kid?
From Melody in Singapore,
my bookish partner in crime.
  
Outgoing


----------
I have followed Steve McCurry's blog for several years.
His photographs are always inspiring and topically themed.
Recent themes:  Wanderlust, The Power of Solitude, 
The Art of Conversation, Courage, Friendship, etc.

To conclude August, the theme was The Power of Play,
and his images (as always) are powerful.
Steve McCurry's Blog
He includes appropriate quotes, and when I saw one by Diane Ackerman,
one of my favorite authors--I especially love her nature essays--
I decided to include it here:

"Play is our brain's favorite way of learning." 
--Diane Ackerman.

One way I play is with needle and thread.




Ugh, the color in these two.

I play in other ways as well, sometimes physically active like with yoga or walking or gardening, and sometimes in less active, messy ways--like making paper or playing with paints.  Is reading play?  It is certainly entertaining and often educational. Play can be challenging or soothing or both.  :)

What are your favorite ways to play?  What childhood play do you miss?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Curious Wildlife

Wildlife Photographers unexpected encounters.



I'm susceptible to wildlife photos, and these make me smile.  The last one is my favorite because the snowy woods and the fox look as if they were drawn from a fairy tale, but each one is delightful in its own way.  Sometimes we all need a little positive reinforcement, and these photos make me happy.  

Now to transfer the laundry to the dryer...

Monday, August 21, 2017

Waiting for the Eclipse

Along with everyone else, I'm waiting for the eclipse.  

"This is the First Total Solar Eclipse in USA Since 1979. This is the first total eclipse of the Sun visible from the contiguous United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) since February 26, 1979. The last time a total eclipse was visible from coast to coast was on June 8, 1918."

Certainly a rare event and worthy of the attention it has been receiving.  I can imagine how frightening it must have been to ancient peoples who, without any forewarning, saw the sun being blacked out.  Even today with all of our scientific knowledge and the anticipation of knowing the times for viewing locally, this is an impressive natural phenomenon.

The California Academy of Sciences has asked for help in recording the way animals and plants (that surprised me) react to the eclipse.  You can find out how here.   

Outgoing Mail

To paraphrase a popular saying:
What comes around, goes around.

Connie sent me the stickers of ice cream cones
that decorate this envelope to Melody.

Jacque sent me some cool used stamps that I used 
along with the new Andrew Wyeth stamp for a letter to Connie.
I love the monochromatic look of the stamps Jacque sent and
the little bursts of color on Copernicus and the Louisiana stamp.
Of course, I had to get the Wyeth stamp crooked!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Going Postal

Incoming Mail





I still have some of the above to respond to, 
and I'm working on it.

Outgoing

I made this postcard months ago, 
but recently Erin bought a new car,
and it was time for it to find a home.

I was in a rush to get things in the mail
and forgot to take a pic of the one I sent to Bryce Eleanor.

But at least I remembered to take pics of the postcards
to Mila and Max.  
One more inspired by Jackie Long.
 :) Yep, these are such fun!


Yep, this postcard is over-stamped,
but I love the dinosaurs. :)

More Whatevers.
I still have lots of 
scrappy felt pieces to play with.
Of course, I also have quite a few
full sheets of wool felt,
but right now the small scraps are more fun.