Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Some really nice, (mostly) empty journals and notebooks.

I receive emails from Creative Market.com, a graphic design and art studio kind of online place. They send out a weekly email to subscribers that offer a host of links on the aforementioned topics. If you enjoy reading about fonts, logos, and design, that is the place for you.

I have always kept a journal and I've never kept a journal. That is, I love to write and I love notebooks and I accumulate them but I never manage to sustain any kind of ongoing chronicle of writing in them. I just like notebooks for themselves.

The top left journal, the beaded one, is one that I bought at Border's Books one New Year 8 years ago, intent on keeping notes of my life. I love the beads and the black velvet. Most of the book is empty. I think

The one on the top right is a linen covered purchased journal I had intended to keep notes of the thoughts about my town, 20 years ago. I used about 10 pages then I ran out of thoughts. But I liked the feel of the linen and the sturdiness of the journal when handling it.

Then an office product and service store named Kinko's started offering binding services. I put together a little journal with a binding on the top and used that one to keep track of my health. I took some notes about drinking water and miles walked but then as usual, I stopped. But I had a lot of fun making little journals.

The green one with the white tissue paper over the cover is a dos-a-dos journal I learned to make during my bookbinding phase. The green is paste paper, a hand made painted kind of decorative paper and the binding is a personally stitched. I kept track of my night-time dreams in it. I don't know why, but I felt it was important to keep track of dreams I was having, for a while. I don't know if I could make a dos-a-dos journal now but they sure are fun.

The small leather one with the cool latch is one that I'd bought through Amazon. It has soft, handmade paper inside and the exterior binding is also handmade. I like it. I jot down prayers and answers to prayer in it. But not consistently because I do that on the laptop in my Logos 6 software that has a place to keep track of prayers and answers. So...again, the journal is mostly empty. But I like unclicking the latch.

Here is Creative Market's article on Amazing Sketchbooks, Notebooks and Pads to Try in 2016
In the final quarter of 2015, the search was on to find the most creative, imaginative, original products and experiences of the year. And there were a lot to choose from. From eye-catching graphic tees to super-inspiring podcasts, the inaugural Creative Market Awards showcased the best in design, technology, and innovation.
In the Best Sketchbook for Designers category, the competition was fierce, with an assortment of chunky pads and brilliant books that are sure to spark design ideas and stimulate thoughts. In a tech-savvy world, where email and SMS have replaced pen and paper, these top sketchbooks are the ultimate companion for any designer who needs an outlet to draw, doodle or draft concepts.
At least my hoarding tendencies are with an item that's pretty small!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Boquillas Mexico and the Rio Grande

For some reason I kept a notebook of stories I'd started and ideas for stories I'd never written, way back before the internet was born and I was traveling and wanted to write stories and books. There were no personal computers then and all I had was a notebook and a pen. Ah, the good old days. Below is one starter, and the photo that inspired it. It was when I was camping by the Rio Grande at Big Bend National Park. The river was not so grande and the crossing brought us to a little town called Boquillas.

We had walked over, and saw school children in Catholic school uniforms walking home for lunch, chickens scattering ahead of them. A restaurant with a 1950s Chevy car seats to sit in under the front portico. A boy willing to rent donkeys. Warm beer.

All you did was walk across the ankle deep river and wander into town. It was cool.
Boquillas del Carmen cooperated with Big Bend in other ways. In the late 1990s, Boquillas was a small town of around 300 residents primarily dependent on the Big Bend tourist trade with visitors crossing the Rio Grande to visit the village's bar, restaurant, and taco stands. Children posted adjacent to the village's Christian mission sold rocks collected in the desert or from nearby caves. Tourism options included pony and donkey rentals, parties at Park Bar, and overnight stays at a local bed and breakfast known as the Buzzard's Roost.
But then 9/11 happened and shortly after, they closed the informal crossing for many years. When it re-opened, there was a customs house and lots of government red tape. Wikipedia:
The events of September 11, 2001, destroyed Boquillas del Carmen's traditional way of life. In May 2002, the border crossing from Big Bend National Park to Boquillas was closed indefinitely. As of October 2006, only 19 families of around 90 to 100 residents remained in Boquillas. Most of the town's residents had been forced to move away by the closure of the tourist crossing and destruction of the town's traditional economy.
On January 7, 2011, the US National Park Service announced plans to reopen the crossing using a ferry and a passport control center planned to open in the spring of 2012. After multiple delays, the new Boquillas Port of Entry was finally officially opened on 10 April 2013. 
Some good news. Though the government formally took control of the crossing, and for many years the town suffered, it seems to be bouncing back. But it will never again be the way that it was, charming, low key, informal, no government.
Since opening of the border crossing, the town of Boquillas del Carmen has seen substantial growth with the addition of electricity (brought over from the U.S. side), a new medical care office, and enhancements at the public elementary school. A single telephone line now comes into the village. When one calls that line, the operator states a specific time at which the caller should call back, promising him/her that the operator will find the person being telephoned and ensure that he/she is at the phone in order to receive the call at the appointed time. The village's population is now said to be about 200 persons. There are at least two U.S.-quality restaurants/bars in the village, both owned by cousins surnamed Falcon, but little to buy in the curio shops in the village (mostly bead craft work). One may not buy alcohol in Boquillas and bring it back to the U.S. via this entry point. 
Finally, a somewhat self-deprecating statement told about the village by persons who live there. "Boquillas del Carmen has 200 people, 400 dogs and one million scorpions." Source
Here is my story starter:


The dog ran into Mexico and I had to go after him. The Rio Grande was narrow here in Big Bend National Park and he'd spotted a horse come to graze at dusk and saw his chance for a little fun. Too bad he doesn't know about geopolitical boundaries.  All he saw was a horse and a field and some fun.

I hear him barking in Boquillas now and I'm not looking forward to running into that guy selling mineral earrings again. he scared me with his pitiful intense desperation, 'Look, I made these, aren't hey beautiful' and he touched my sleeve.

So I slip off my sneakers trying hard not to notice the myriad paw prints looking like muddy hieroglyphics from big things that had come to drink. tie the sneaks in a good knot and sling them over my shoulders. Feet slipping in the oozy mud, my own prints now mingling with last night's predators and prey. I run splashing loud across the river drowning and the cattails whisper announcing my arrival in a foreign country without a passport.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Murray and his cardboard

All cats seem to love sitting in boxes. My old cat Abby did.

My new cat Murray likes a box too. He will sit in an empty box all day long. OK, not all day. After three seconds he'll shred the box.

Even if the box is small, Murray will get in it. Then he will see the flaps, and they are too luscious to resist. Mmm, cardboard.

Done with that flap, he moves to the other side. Time elapsed, 8 seconds.

Hmmm, I think this corner is sufficiently destroyed. What next?

Let me calmly ponder my next move while I clean myself up.

I've got to hand it to him, he is orderly in his chaos. He goes around the box progressively and methodically chewing each flap.

Here's a short video. Murray goes right to town on the cardboard. I like that he has something he enjoys. I just wish it wasn't destroying cardboard, with the potential that he'll gravitate to chewing books, magazines, and papers after he gets sick of boxes, or if there aren't any boxes around to chew.

Ahhh, cats. So mysterious. So cute!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

New art on the wall

Yay, we are on a school break right now. We've got Monday and Tuesday off, which is really nice because the rest of February and March is a long haul until the next break. It's the most stressful, tiring part of the year. We've been advised to rest up, not think about school, and have a relaxing time. Always one to follow orders, I am doing just that.

While I waited for the word to leap in the car and go retrieve my Bountiful Basket from my friend who kindly picks it up for me, I scanned some collages I made years ago and found by looking through some of the older notebooks I have on my bookshelf. I made this one just after I moved to GA and was enjoying the first of the south's mild winters and early spring. I had a journal-type-day planner I'd done some art in. I like chronicling things. I Pixlr-ized the scanned journal page, of course.

This next one was from an old day planner in which I was obviously not looking forward to the New Year, lol. I never have been able to keep up a journal. I lasted with this ten year old one until Feb 4. Then I quit writing in it, chronicling in it, and doing art in it. Why I keep a nearly empty ten year old day planner is beyond me. I think this was the last gasp of day planners/journals I ever tried to keep.

I thought this was funny.

I have no clue what was on my mind when I made this. It isn't even cohesive.

Although as general advice, yes, avoid the herd mentality.

I finally bought some new art to hang over my bed. The art that was there before was a photo I had taken over twelve years ago. I like the photo itself, the composition, what it says, and the colors. But I remember that day, I remember that snowstorm, I remember that apartment, and I hated all three. Here is the photo I took down from over my bed, thus making a space for a new piece of art.

It is a watercolor of what seems to be a Greek villa overlooking the blue Aegean sea. The cashier asked me with a grin, if I am going to put the picture in a beachhouse, and I said, no, I am going to hang it over my bed and pretend I am there. If I have to look at something as I fall asleep, at least it's not a snowstorm from hell and frigid temperatures but of a soft sea with crisp white terraces.

It isn't a first edition, nor anything expensive or even particularly special. I liked the colors, I liked that for its size it wasn't heavy, and I liked the frame.

Our Bountiful Basket today was filled to the brim with goodies. I traded my oranges and grapefruits to a friend for her bok choy and beets. We also received a bag of pears, zucchini, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, and cukes. I also have left over cauliflower and I still need to cut up the pineapple from last time. Yay! healthy food. Beets are so good roasted. You wouldn't even believe.

Well I hope you survive the Polar Vortex that is supposed to bring lots of low temps to much of the eastern seaboard this weekend. I have to say, today was pretty chilly and it's getting colder right now as the sun sets. I'm blessed to have food, clothes, blankets, a home and cats! Count your blessings, no matter what your circumstance, there are many blessings in your life.