23 words · collage · Februllage


Row-row-row a boat
It’s good exercise
Since Santa struggles with his weight
This option might be wise


collage · Februllage · Life

Teeming vs Teaming

[Ix-nay the 23 word rule for today.]

I made this collage a couple of years ago as part of a stop-motion video.

We were to choose a word from the Doxology and illustrate it. We submitted them to a person who was going to gather them all into one marvelous production of art and story and music.

I chose “CREATURES” as my word. You know, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all CREATURES here below…”

My chosen art style is collage — quirky, weird collage — if you haven’t noticed.

I started cutting out different animals for my submission. Before I knew it, I had downloaded some app on my phone to make a stop-motion video that was teeming with life. Birds flew across in one direction, while alligators danced across in the other. Rabbits kept popping their heads up. At one point, I had a cow jumping over the CREATURE sign. I even cut out two Lil Critters, one with his back to us so he could walk into the picture, and one with him turned around, sign raised.

Here’s another iteration of that collage:

What happened to the stop-motion movie? I have no idea. I don’t think I saved it. Sad, but true.

I submitted it, and then technical difficulty prevented the final collaboration. I don’t know if the final piece ever came into being because life sort of stopped for me.

I struggled.

Can I be honest here? I really struggled.

Can I be really honest here? I still struggle.

What I need to focus on is TEAMING with life, slipping my arm through life’s arm and walking forward. Because LIFE IS GOOD is more than a t-shirt brand. It’s a truth.

Today, someone brought me a beautiful painted heart-shaped cookie. It was so unexpected. And delicious.

Yesterday, I got to spend some quality time with my youngest daughter.

The day before that, we had a guest organist at church who made the little organ in the chapel — not the big fancy one in the sanctuary — the little rinky-dink organ in the little chapel where we meet to save on heating oil — he made that organ sing. That, in turn, made my heart sing.

Each day holds some goodness, some beauty that’s just waiting to be noticed.

When you team with life, life teems with goodness.

Blogging Challenge · poetry


Fears I don’t have:

  • spiders
  • the dark
  • idle threats

Fears that I do:

  • failure
  • not trying
  • regrets

I made the collage at the top for last year’s A-to-Z Challenge. The background is from Ezra Jack Keats’ Over in the Meadow. The child is from The Silly Sheepdog by Heather Amery and Stephen Cartwright. The bee (and maybe the spider, but I’m not sure) is(are) from A Trip to the Yard, pictures by Marjorie Hartwell and Rachel Dixon.


Mail a Smile

This morning I stared at the screen. I had zero inspiration.

Inspiration is such a funny thing — feast or famine.

But I haven’t missed a day this year. At least, I don’t think I have.

Then, I saw Eva’s post on Hawwa’s Mail Adventures — a collage that was her submission to “Mail a Smile,” a project  whose aim is to send artistically decorated envelopes and letters to cheer people up around the world.

The 2017 theme is endangered animals. I scoured my children’s books for something on the endangered list.

Unfortunately, rabbits don’t make the cut. I have an abundance of bunnies.

Neither do farm animals, dogs, cats, fish, or frogs.

Finally I found some endangered animals — a tiger and a gorilla — that I could stick on a collage card.

There are multiple tigers on the WWF list: the Sumatran Tiger, South China Tiger, Amur Tiger, Bengal Tiger, Indochinese Tiger, and the average garden-variety tiger. I’m not sure what kind mine is.

There are also several gorillas: Cross River Gorilla, Eastern Lowland Gorilla, Western Lowland Gorilla, and the Mountain Gorilla. The children’s book I used didn’t specify.

If you want to send a postcard or card (and a smile) with an endangered animal featured, send it to:

Mail a smile
1554 – Hungary

Here’s my pic — it’s going out in tomorrow’s mail!

The gorilla profile (on the left hand side) is from The Gorilla Did It by Barbara Shook Hazen, illustrated by Ray Cruz.

The tiger is from Little Polar Bear, Take Me Home! written and illustrated by Hans de Beer.

The background is from The Mapmaker’s Daughter by M. C. Helldorfer, illustrated by Jonathan Hunt.

The decidedly unendangered bunny is from Richard Scarry’s Bunny Book.

A to Z Blogging Challenge

A-to-Z Retrospective

This was my third year participating in April’s A-to-Z Challenge.

In 2015, I posted mostly about a trip to Laity Lodge in Texas, and, in 2016, I wrote mostly about caring for my aging parents. I say “mostly” for both of those because I wandered on a few posts. Despite that, I survived and succeeded in posting through the whole alphabet.

For 2017, I decided to share a little of my “art” — collages I make from worn-out children’s books.

I didn’t post this picture during the challenge, but it sort of shows how I was feeling about tackling the challenge using my collages.

Sharing art is risky and scary.

It’s like dealing with bees. What if they sting? What if I get hurt?

But it’s also like bees, in that the rewards can be sweet. Affirmations can be like honey.

So, first, I’d like to thank all the good people who stopped by and said a few kind words, or even just hit the “like” button. You’re wonderful. You’ve been good for my soul.

Second, I did find it significantly harder this year to connect with other A-to-Z-ers. I felt like I was trying to post my link in a bunch of different places and it became cumbersome. Cumbersome to link, cumbersome to look.

Some blogs that I did discover (and love) were Finding Eliza (about research and family history), Hawwa’s Mail Adventures (featuring real, honest-to-goodness snail mail), Miss Pelican’s Perch (who used the challenge to overcome writer’s block), I Just Have to Say (who wrote about her favorite things, many of which were also MY favorite things), and, my favorite, Iain Kelly (who wrote an action-packed serial murder mystery using a children’s puzzle for inspiration). Some I had already been following who did the challenge were Vanessence and Manee Trautz. There were others that I stumbled through and can’t recall their names — someone sharing drawings every day of Disney characters, someone writing about spirituality. Forgive me if I’ve forgotten.

Third, to the organizers of this mad affair, thank you. Yes, it was different this year — but if I hadn’t done it previous years, I wouldn’t know the difference.  And the bottom line is a bunch of people blogged regularly for the month of April. You encouraged that. You facilitated that. You deserve a round of applause. Thank you.

Background from Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Woman from My Dad’s Job by Peter Glassman, illustrated by Timothy Bush

Boy from Meet My Staff by Patricia Marx, illustrated by Roz Chast

Little girl from The Silly Sheepdog by Heather Amery and Stephen Cartwright

Bee ??

A to Z Blogging Challenge · family

Z is for Zaengle

At Christmas I made place-cards for everyone. They stood on little easels at the table. They were place-cards without names, just funny little pictures that made me think of each person.

Each member of the family is unique — just like everyone else.

I wish I had taken a better picture of the collection, but here’s who each one represents.

Row 1 (left to right): Mary — a little Richard Scarry bunny writing at a desk. Bud had just painted her walls of her bedroom lavender, the very color I had wanted the walls of my bedroom when I was a child (but it didn’t happen).

“Fred” — he’s the photographer at family events, so I found a little man taking pictures. He’s snapping a shot of a dwarf crossing a bridge.

Philip — an army man at a Sandra Boynton nativity. Philip played with those green plastic army men at my parents’ house as a little boy.  Years later, we would find a sniper hiding in a plant, or a radio guy behind a lamp.

Owen — a Richard Scarry cat catching a fish from Tikki-Tikki-Tembo water. Owen loves to fish. A dog would have been more appropriate for him because he loves dogs too — but Richard Scarry didn’t have a dog fishing picture.

My brother, Jim — he raised sheep, and may even still have a few.

Row 2: Karl — Grumpy Santa (Sandra Boynton)  standing on the porch of a house. It just made me laugh. Karl does that.

Henry, my grandson — loves Curious George.

Emily, Owen’s wife — the only one with a name on it. I knew she had to have it.

Sharon, Jim’s wife — a dragonfly because I know she likes them.

Laurel — Pooh and Piglet and a goose. Laurel wanted Winnie the Pooh in hers. I liked the way they were leaning back to look up at the goose.

Row 3: Donna, Sam’s wife — I read somewhere that a cardinal represents lost loved ones. Her mother passed away while she and Sam were dating. Plus snow because British Columbia and snow.

Bud — Bud loves building fires and sitting and staring into them. It’s a Zaengle thing. Zaengle gatherings with his siblings almost always include bonfires and just sitting around the fire talking.

My dad — he was a doctor so I found a little doctor for him.

Helen — she has always loved the beach. I even sprinkled a little sand and put some real tiny shells on hers.

Amanda, Philip’s wife — She’s Henry’s mother, and it seemed appropriate to give her a mother and child.

Row 4: My brother, Peter — he teaches science. I’ve gone with him several times in the summer when he takes kids to the biological field station on the lake where the kids look at all sorts of life under microscopes.

My nephew, Ben — he’s very musical and had just starred in his school’s middle school musical.

Sam — like hiking, works at an outdoorsy store, and the boots made me think of him.

Me — the only one I didn’t make. Mary made mine for me. I love how she put a little rabbit comforting/encouraging the tired housewife. This is my life.

Diana, Peter’s wife — two literary rabbits. She’s an English teacher and loves books as much as I do. I thought she would appreciate these two classic characters meeting each other.

And to finish it off, here’s a family photo of my family taken this Christmas. I am incredibly blessed with a wonderful family.

Bud said to me, as we were driving home from the Albany bus station after dropping Sam and Donna off so they could fly back west, “We did a good job, didn’t we?”

So far, so good.

Christmas 2016
Starting on the top step — Amanda and Philip
Owen and Emily
Sam and Donna
Me and Bud
“Fred”, Helen, and Laurel
Karl, Henry, and Mary

I love these people.