Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cat and Mouse Games

House Mouse stamps never fail to warm my heart and make me smile. Ellen Jareckie, the artist who designs the stamps, has created a little world of critters who are all friends. She has other lines of animal stamps, but the mice are my favourites.

Each mouse has a name and a personality. Mudpie, who's shaking the petals from the tree, is said to be lazy, and has a notched ear, due to his brother, Maxwell, mistaking his ear for a piece of cheese. Muzzy, who's enjoying the rain of perfumed petals, is fuzzy and has really long hair. The cat? The cat is a Friend. Only the mice have names.

There are several stamps with the mice interacting with cats, grooming them, giving them treats, bandaging a hurt paw. As one who loves animals, cats in particular, I love seeing cats and mice being friendly. The House Mouse world is an animal Garden of Eden, where mischief is often on the menu, but never a Friend or Mouse.

I made this card for the House Mouse and Friends Monday challenge HMFMC201. The current Monday challenge is Flower Power, or Anything Goes, as long as one of the House Mouse line of stamps is used. If you love the House Mouse critters, do check out the House Mouse and Friends blog.

Blossoming Friendship is the name of the stamp I used. I coloured it with Stampin' UP Water Color Wonder Crayons (retired) and Markers. The sky was sponged. It's an A2 (4 1/4"x5 1/2") size. Note: A base has been added to this card. It was originally a single-layer card, but I had neglected to note that the measurements of the stamp fit those of a 4"x5.25" layer, so I cut the extra bits and attached it to a 4.25x5.5 SU Blushing Bride base.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Stampin' Up Thick Whisper White card stock was used for the card base, the flowered layer is Stampin' Up Sheer Perfection Vellum, coloured on the reverse side with SU Summer Sun (retired) and Garden Green Markers. The Cornish Heritage Farms sentiment was stamped on the front with StazOn Tuxedo Black ink. The cage and bird stamps are from the retired SU set, Nature Walk.

This stamp set makes me think of Maya Angelou's 1969 autobiography,  "I know Why the Caged Bird Sings." The title drew me then and still does. What does the author know, what is her answer? On first reading that title, I suspected that the reason wouldn't be that the bird sings for joy. Her poem,  Caged Bird, gives the dark answer. The bird is a metaphor for the slave and for the freed slave struggling for basic rights. Freedom and rights are seldom gained without struggle and suffering.

The poem Sympathy by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) also uses a caged bird as metaphor for the slaves of antebellum United States, and for their descendants who struggle for full recognition of their dignity as human beings. The poem contains the line, "I know why the caged bird sings, ah me". Dunbar was close to the experience of slavery; his parents had both been slaves in Kentucky, and he was born in the years when freed slaves and their children began the struggle to claim their place as full citizens.

These poems, different in style and voice, both express forcefully what those suffer who are treated as less than human. The images of cruelty and of longing for freedom strike to my heart and lead me to reflect on the dangers of treating any human life as inferior or without value. Human life, from the instant of conception to the moment of natural death, is priceless.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

By the Sea

We're having a heat wave, which for Québec City, located on the St. Lawrence River, means lots of crushing humidity; 61% at this moment, and it's been higher. So I'm consuming lots of iced drinks, keeping the fans going--no air-conditioning, high heat doesn't last long enough--and as the sun comes around to peer through my NorthWest facing windows and balcony door, I close the blinds.

When I'm tempted to complain of the heat, I think of  winter snowbanks that reach my shoulder, and winds straight from the arctic. Doesn't make me feel cooler, but it puts things in perspective.

In addition to cool drinks, and appreciation of the moment,  I take virtual seaside vacations, via cards I make. Nothing relaxes me like the sound of waves rolling onto a beach, the sound of seagulls, and the remembered feeling of some days spent long ago on a beach in Corpus Christi, Texas, where I waded into the Gulf waters, forgetting sunscreen.

I can still feel fish brushing my legs, and see clearly the Ray flying past in the water ahead of me. I laugh again, thinking of waves crashing over me as I tried in vain to bodysurf. I also have a sharp memory of the pain of a never-again sunburn.

Every summer, I get out my favourite water-themed Stampin' Up stamp sets: Summer by the Sea, and Seaside Sketches, from which the images in today's cards are taken. I hope they help you relax a little, and think kindly of the fleeting summer days.

Sunday, August 09, 2015


What does "summer" conjure up for you? Long, lazy days? Unbearable heat? Vacation with family? Picnics? No school? All of the above? When I hear "Summer", I sigh and go into relax mode.

Until I had spent a winter in Québec City, where I now live, I didn't appreciate summer. When it started warming up and the snow banks of that first long winter were almost gone, it was like coming out of hibernation. Suddenly, the sounds of children playing, dogs barking, neighbours calling out to each other drifted in through double windows opened for the first time since October. I took Summer for granted when I lived in Oklahoma.

Notice the orange leaves at the top of the trees on the card. As I enjoyed a cup of iced coffee on my balcony today, I noticed a nearby tree with a couple of orange leaves near its top. Autumn is announcing itself.

 I love Autumn here almost as much as Summer; cool mornings and evenings, warm days, a riot of colours, but winter arrives all too soon and for all too long.  I won't think of the short days to come, I'll concentrate on the last of the long days of Summer.

Friday, August 07, 2015


When I think of roots, I generally think of parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, ancestors, the generations of people whose DNA legacy I carry. But blood relatives are not the only contributors to the person I am today. Certainly, the grandparents, in whose nurturing home I grew up after the early death of my mother and absence of my father, taught me the values and morals I hold today.  Two uncles, really more brothers than uncles, also greatly influenced me. But a challenge on the Stamp Nation website to "make a card for a friend you haven't seen in awhile" made me reflect on friendship. 
Friends are definitely part of our roots, part of what makes us who we are. Friends help shape our character and influence our opinions and beliefs, even when we don't agree. How grateful I am for my first close friends, those I made in early childhood and during my teenage and college years. The closest of them are still in my life, even though we now live far apart. I'm grateful for my solid roots.