Best house I’ve seen in a while

A friend and I were on KS Hwy 7 north of Atchison a couple of weeks ago on the way to a flea market in Sparks, KS (population 9, except for flea market weekends!)
On our way we spotted a few really fantastic farm homes in the middle of nowhere, but this one really caught our attention:

IMG_6136I really wanted to get out and explore, but there were actually cars parked around and it looked like someone was living in it.

IMG_6135I didn’t think it would be nice to say, “Hi, your house is really decrepit, is it okay if I explore and take photos?” So I just took some from the road.


It’s probably going to be there for a few years yet, but if someone were to restore it, where would you start?

IMG_6138Maybe they put on a big show at Halloween. It’s pretty far from everything else, though. They might not get the traffic out there.

IMG_6139I just hope a tornado doesn’t get it. I’d like to see it again someday.


Drawing Self-Taught

Some of you might be wondering whether I’ve done any new art work lately. The answer is a bit complex.

IMG_6095I found a book on its way to the trash called Drawing Self-Taught. I believe it was from the 50’s. One of those cheaply made paperbacks that might have cost .50 when it was new. Now, it’s  falling to bits.

IMG_6096So I thought it would be fun to play around with the rough guides on each page and see what I could do with the “zentangle” techniques I’ve been seeing lately.IMG_6099I can’t wait to tackle the pages with the entire female figure. I think the author got a little carried away with those, they are nearly all lying down in various seductive poses. IMG_6100I sent one of these off to a mail artist in Belgium, but I haven’t figured out how to convert the scan I made to a .jpg yet, so you can’t see that one yet. It was all legs. IMG_6102So in spite of not having made any of the other “mandala” style drawings, I do draw some. I suspect this new stuff will alter my style if I go back to the other free-hand work, but it’s too soon to know that. In the meantime, these little things are going out to my mail art friends.  There’s no shortage of material to play with when you look in the trash. I hope you enjoy them!


Postal Souvenirs from the Grand Tour of Europe

I know some of you have had the task of going through the house when your parents have died, or moved, and the responsibility of what happens to all their stuff is on your shoulders.

Sometimes it’s kind of fun. I have fond memories of when my brothers came to town after my folks died and we were all going through the stacks of miscellaneous in the basement. Most of it was easily recognized, but this item was not familiar to any of us:

The only clues I got were from some labels inside and a few addresses that indicated the owner lived in Topeka, KS.

She evidently took the Grand Tour of Europe trip in 1913, and she got even more postcards and photos than I would have collected.

These photos aren’t shown here in any particular order. The one below is the first page of the book, showing the New York Bible Teacher’s Training School and the ship “Neckar.”
(Wikipedia: SS Neckar (1901), in service 1901–1917; seized by United States; served as troopship USS Antigone (ID-3007); served as SS Potomac for United States Lines, 1921–1922; scrapped at Baltimore, 1927)

The collection is a combination of postcards, photographs, and newspaper clippings.

IMG_5924Some of the cards are addressed and stamped, some are blank.

IMG_5925 I’ve held on to this for 12 years now, knowing that it was probably not important to my dad (otherwise, why would he have risked it getting moldy in the basement?) but also attracted to it because I have a postcard collection myself. IMG_5926There are some cards of Dresden, which might be of special interest, since the photos were taken so long before WWII.
IMG_5932And here we are in Italy.

IMG_5928I thought about just incorporating these into my pile of cards that I mail out, but I’m not sure if my mailing them now would reduce their value, if they have any.


So I decided to list the entire book (more than 270 items!) on eBay. I put an awfully high price on it, but sold individually, I know these would all go for more than $1 each. They are mixed up, but they also tell the story of someone’s trip, which I think makes it special.


So far, lots of lookers and no bidders. But it’s early yet. It would be hard to decide what to do with them all, unless you have a flea market booth with postcards from all over the place and want to sell them individually, or are into sending really cool postcards to your pen pals. “Here, I’m sending you a postcard over a hundred years old. Beat that!” Nah, I’m more into home made cards of my own photos or art work.
In any case, thank you, Miss Sweet. I’ve had lots of fun seeing the photos and mementos of your trip.


Re-working the Renaissance

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.
Jim Jarmusch
[MovieMaker Magazine #53 – Winter, January 22, 2004 ]

Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo painted witty, even surreal portraits composed of fruits, vegetables, fish and trees.

769684575_bb9ddbcb7c Arcimboldo-Rudolf-II-631.jpg__800x600_q85_crop

Philip Haas, a contemporary artist and filmmaker, has created four monumental portrait busts titled The Four Seasons. Haas’ 15-foot-tall sculptures are 3-dimensional interpretations of the Italian Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s portrait series of the same name.

These are on display at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art here in Kansas City, MO until the middle of October. They’re weird and worth a look.

I had a day off last week, and took myself out for a few hours. I wasn’t sure what I felt like doing that day, but I ended up at the Nelson because that’s where I hang out whenever I can. The weather was perfect. I was feeling a lot of stress from the two jobs, so my mind wasn’t clear and I didn’t feel like going inside.

So first I laid down in the grass on the lawn and fell asleep for a while. There weren’t many people out on a Friday afternoon, and it was easy to avoid being disturbed.


When I woke up, I felt completely different. Looking towards the museum, I saw that the installation of these works was in progress right around The Thinker, so I wandered over there and took pictures. They had built a ramp up the side steps to roll these pieces into place. I wish I’d gotten pictures of that process, it must have been entertaining.

IMG_5989aThere was a crew of people touching up the fiberglass with paint and putting up signs saying “Do Not Touch the Art.”
“Good luck with that,” I wanted to say.

IMG_5991It did make me want to get in there and help. I felt like I’d missed my vocation, which ideally would have been something to do with curating exhibits, archival work, or restoration. Shelving books is getting a little old.

IMG_5990I had a hard time getting photos without a lot of bystanders included.

I think I liked “Winter” the best, as it reminds me of The Green Man (even though it wasn’t all that green.)

I’m not sure how these fit in with Rodin’s The Thinker. I don’t think I would have placed these pieces so close to him. Maybe they were trying to keep them close to the building (and the guards who are going to ask the viewers not to touch the Art.)

I’m glad I saw them, but I’m also glad it’s not a permanent installation. In six months, a view of the crew trundling those pieces back down the steps should be something worth watching.


The Mysterious Autographed Shirt

If you know anything about quilts, you’ll know that autographed quilts are an amazing variation on a traditional, practical, art form. Usually they are a parting gift made by a group of people and given to an individual as a going-away present.

But have you ever seen an autographed shirt?

This child’s shirt was in a discard pile at our local auction house, so I picked it up to see what I could learn from it.


Actually, I didn’t learn much. It’s a girl’s shirt. It’s probably from the 50’s or 60’s based on the Peter Pan clothing label.

The signatures were all penciled in and embroidered afterwards, perhaps all by one person. But not all of them got embroidered.


So I don’t even know if the person this was made for ever got the shirt.


One of those huge projects that didn’t quite end up where it was supposed to.


Was it being made for someone who was sick, or going away? That child must have been pretty special to merit so much work.


Too bad someone didn’t indicate the person for whom it was made. It would have been fun to try and track that person down.

It’s up for auction on eBay right now, and not getting a lot of attention. But I’m through enjoying it, and don’t want to clutter my own family heirlooms with things that will just confuse my kids when they go through my stashes of fabric when I die.
Have you ever seen anything else quite like it? Comments welcome!


Catching Up

IMG_5125aI’m still around, but  haven’t been in the mood to post for a long time. Today I’ll show you a few collages I’ve made over the last few months and mailed out to International Union of Mail Artists friends. IMG_5127aIMG_5128a


I’ve also got a few items listed on eBay and I might show you photos of what’s for sale, too. I find some bizarre things sometimes.



March 2 2014 (6)I took a trip to visit my cousin in California last month, and I’ll see if there are some unique photos that you might find interesting.  but most of these posts will be brief, just a glimpse into what’s catching my attention each week. I’ve been doing some crazy drawings to mail out, and I’ll show you some of them, too.

How’s everyone else doing? I still enjoy reading all the blogs I follow and appreciate the work you put into them.


Third Mt. Rainier Hike, Comet Falls and Van Trump Park

There was one more hike I had time to take at Mt. Rainier, the Comet Falls Trail. I also wanted to see Van Trump Park, since my dad had spoken of it so often and I wasn’t sure I’d ever been that far. Van Trump Park is on the same trail, past the falls,  just a lot farther.

IMG_4195My last hike to the falls was when we had a family reunion to celebrate my parents’ 50th anniversary in 1992. My aunt and uncle and my dad and I took this hike, and all I remember about going up was that it lasted forever. I’ll tell you about the going down later.

IMG_4196The trail starts below Christine Falls, and after about the first .3 miles it crosses the bridge there that is visible from the road.

IMG_4203Looking up from the bridge.

IMG_4212It was extremely strenuous and very steep. Keep in mind that I’d just done two major hikes the previous two days, so I wasn’t exactly pain-free at this point.
We gained 1000 feet in just the first mile.

IMG_4217Bruce’s sister, Cheryl, joined us on this one.

I saw wildflowers on this hike that I hadn’t seen around Paradise.

IMG_4223It was a nice forest trail, just like I remembered, with spots of sunshine where we could get all hot and sweaty.

IMG_4226It was gorgeous, but the bugs were fierce. But I had bug repellant.

IMG_4230The trail had every kind of rough condition: stairs, rocks, roots, mud, and everything that required constant vigilance.

IMG_4235I’m not sure how long it took to get to this view, but it was good to see it. Bruce told us stories of the times he had taken this trail, even camping up there in the winter. He estimated 30- 35 times doing that trail, if you counted all the times they did it as kids.
IMG_4242Photos don’t reflect how steep the trail was.

IMG_4244I’d never seen a tiger lily before at the park.

IMG_4247We had frequent views of Van Trump Creek (I think)  coming down from the falls.

IMG_4250“Whale rock.” A good place to rest.

IMG_4265A log bridge, not too far from the falls. “Far” being a relative term.

IMG_4260View from that bridge of Bloucher Falls.

IMG_4278Finally, after a couple of hours or more of that trail, the view of Comet Falls!

IMG_4274It was higher than I remembered, and had more water than the last time I’d seen it.  Quite spectacular! The main part of the falls is about 320 feet long.

IMG_4283We stopped at the first good viewpoint and had some snacks, then proceeded a bit farther where we could cool off in the spray.

IMG_4287 Bruce has a way of making things sound easier than they are. He said Van Trump Park was only a bit farther. As it turned out, the hike to Comet Falls was about two-thirds of the trip, and it was two more miles to Van Trump Park. We also gained another 11oo feet of elevation.

IMG_4292I was getting a bit more tired and didn’t take as many pictures on the next stretch. But we all managed to get the whole way there.

IMG_4293Bear grass.

IMG_4295If you click on this one, there’s Mt. St. Helens again. So I saw these other mountains three days in a row!

IMG_4296Avalanche lily.

IMG_4302We’d come 2.5 miles by this time. There were a couple of patches of snow by the side of the trail, handy for stuffing down my neck and under my hat.


IMG_4308And yet another view of Mt. Adams! Looking over the Tatoosh Range one more time.

IMG_4312The view of Mt. Rainier is very different from here, farther west from Paradise.

IMG_4318Using the telephoto setting.

IMG_4320A place to rest near the camping area close to the end of the maintained trail.  “Cross-county camping opportunities exist for skilled minimum impact backpackers who seek a primitive experience.”

IMG_4321Van Trump Park is a gorgeous sub-alpine meadow.

IMG_4337I saw more bear grass there than I had seen anywhere else up to that point.



IMG_4347There were mountain goat on that rocky patch, but it was so far away we could only see them with binoculars. They’re frequently seen in this area.

IMG_4354There is a trail that goes farther, but it’s not a maintained trail, it’s more like a footpath. We all agreed that we had gone far enough, and being in the sun wasn’t appealing. We stayed up here for about 20 minutes, enjoying the view and the rest, but it was around 3:30 by then and time to start down.


IMG_4369Yellow paintbrush with heather.

IMG_4371It was a really long hard slog back, about three hours total without stopping. But I recalled the last time I’d done it. My dad had taken his “after-lunch pill” at Comet Falls, not really knowing what it was for, just that it was one he had to take. It turned out that it was one that he took to help him rest for a while. Coming down that time took forever, because he basically lost strength in his legs and had to lean on my arm taking baby steps all the way. By the time we got down (of course, I knew that it would never, ever end) the meds had worn off and he was fine. But it wasn’t a good experience. Compared to that, coming down this time was just hot, exhausting, and lengthy. I was really glad to have replaced that memory with one that was less stressful. At least this time I knew I would eventually reach the trail head.

IMG_4373Back across the bridge.

IMG_4198And finally, a couple of hours later, back to the bridge over Christine Falls.

IMG_4375Then entire hike took us ab0ut 8 hours, 5 up and 3 down. Andrea’s fitness tracker said we’d gone about 8 miles round trip, although the sign didn’t say it was that far.
I enjoyed this hike a lot, but if I were pressed for time, I probably would skip it in favor of another one. It was just really really difficult without the views of the mountain along the way. In retrospect, Pinnacle Peak up to the saddle was more fun. It just depends on whether you want to see a really big waterfall or more mountain views.

Here’s a link to someone else’s trail photos and descriptions. I love comparing other people’s hiking photos because the weather conditions make the light different and the time of year changes things, too.

And here’s a really great map. I like it because you can zoom in and see how the trail goes up so far and zoom out to see where this trail actually is positioned on the mountain:

When I got back to the hotel for dinner, I could barely even move. A short flight of steps up to my room seemed almost impossible. And yet, I only got one small blister, and no injuries, so I consider the entire three days an enormous success!

I hope you enjoyed my three Mt. Rainier hikes for 2014!