Friday, November 16, 2018

Places That Don't Exist Anymore

For the past 5 to 6 years, since I began with mail art/snailmailing, I've become increasingly interested in old postage stamps. When I was a very young kid, in the late 50s, I started collecting stamps...but family changes, moves, etc. put the kibosh on that hobby.

So I've been ad hoc collecting for a few years now, deciding on which stamps are most appealing to me and swapping, selling or giving away anything else. I've kept my stamps in a 3-ring binder, in those plastic sleeves that hold ATCs or trading cards, 9 slots on a page.

Only recently did I decide I wanted to "formalize" my stamps into a real collection, in albums. I found an old Minkus 1954 International Album at the flea a couple months ago, for $5. And that just whet my appetite.

On Tuesday, I acquired, from my vendor pal, a huge 3-part Scott International Album through the late 1950s, a Scott Minuteman U.S. Album through the late 1980s, 5 or 6 other smaller albums, and 5 or 6 stamp stock books...everything with collections started who knows where or when...for a song. And I'm over the moon.

Slowly, I will work my own collection into the bigger albums, and remove stamps from the smaller albums to do the same. For U.S. stamps, I'm good with the Minuteman Album only going up to the late 1980s. Because I do not like 99% of the "newer issues," meaning stamps that are microlithographed as opposed to engraved (the Bureau of Printing & Engraving stopped issuing engraved stamps in the early 1990s, although many stamps prior to then were not engraved. The Bureau stopped printing stamps altogether in 2005.), and I have no intention of collecting them. Except the very few that I like, which I'll probably keep in a stock book instead of an album.

Not sure what I'll do yet with international stamps beyond the late 1950s. It's unlikely I'll find an album for them, short of buying some of the latter parts of Scott's now-50 volume World Stamp Album, which wholly sells for upwards of $13,000! I definitely will not go there, so I 'll probably keep those stamps in the same binder I'm currently housing my collection.

There was a time when I wouldn't have been happy with old albums. But I'm completely satisfied with them now. In fact, it feels like an honor to have acquired collections that were started in the past by I don't know how many people, work on and with them, and pass them on at the end of my life.

I've now got more old stamps than I could ever imagine before, many from countries and regions that no longer exist, and I would bet quite a few of them are very valuable, monetarily. The history in these album education for sure. Especially in view of how much the world has changed in the past 100 years -- or even 50 years -- I'd much rather have my head in old, vintage stamp albums, continually amazed at the tiny works of art before me, than watch anything on TV.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Next Pair

Sock knitting continues. The pair below was finished early last week. The pair from the last post, that I didn't especially like because of how the colors worked up, has a new home, with a friend who loves them. Win-win for everybody.

I'm resting my hands this weekend, focusing on reading the latest Tana French novel, The Witch Elm. I only have it for a week.

I've been collaging frequently, and replying to penpal correspondence. It's so hard to believe this year is nearly over and done with. Went to a Thanksgiving Dinner last night, hosted by the mobile park where I live. I couldn't help but notice that a lot of people here now seem younger than folks did when I moved in...the older ones died or moved away, plus I'm 10 years older, so most of the newer residents ARE younger than me!

Our days recently have been mostly-clear and crisp. Parts of California are on fire again, with more new fires likely. It sure seems that every time new fires happen, they are more devastating than any previous fires. More total acres (1.7M+) have burned in California this year than in any previous year. There've been more fatalities in recent fires and much more destruction of homes, schools, etc. The entire town of Paradise, east of Chico, was wiped out by the Camp Fire last week. The Woolsey Fire in SoCal has burned from Simi Valley to Thousand Oaks to Malibu, right down to the coast highway. It's so sad.

I feel pretty safe in Humboldt County. No major fires here, no extreme weather (the long-standing drought in CA notwithstanding), as far as I know we haven't had any mass shootings here (although we do have a huge number of drug-related homicides and traffic fatalities).

Overall and in general, despite last Tuesday's election results, I feel things will continue to get a lot worse...and it might not begin to turn around in what's left of my lifetime. So I try my best to enjoy my life, here and now, and let go of the rest. Although it's a daily challenge, as I'm sure you all know, to live our lives without being impacted by what's going on around us.

Hope you have a good week.  xx

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

WYSI-not always-WYG

I spent the past four days power-knitting a pair of socks, because I wanted to get it over and done with.

First off, when I saw the skein that produced the socks below, I thought it was the most beautiful yarn I'd seen. It read turquoise, olive, magenta. It did not read brown, as the finished socks do. So to say I'm a little disappointed is an understatement.

But the yarn was pricey and I don't like having UFOs lying around...because they eat at my mind until I finish them. So I just knit up this pair of socks from the getgo, working as fast as I could, so that I could move on.

The yarn was also relatively difficult to work with, because it's a very tightly spun 3-ply that is very round -- which likely makes it good for socks, but cumbersome to work with. Plus, that tightly-spunness rendered all the stitches so uniform, that the finished socks look as though they were made on a sock knitting machine, not by hand.

However...they're warm and comfy, despite that they don't go with anything I own. And they're also 100% superwash wool, which is the only wool I'll use these days.

In my spinning days, just the name superwash would kind of make me recoil. I used to buy raw wool fleece and process and spin it myself. So a wool product messed-with in any way was out of my range of comprehension...

...until about 10 years ago when I realized that I could no longer wear wool, because it itched too much. So I used up what handspun wool I had left on items I donated to local animal rescue groups, and set about knitting up all the handspun silks I had in my collection.

Then I decided to knit again in earnest, and I discovered superwash wool. The primary reason it is called superwash, is that it can be soaped and agitated in a washing machine without turning into felt, as natural wool will do in a heartbeat. Natural wool fibers have microscopic barbs on them, and those barbs stick together when wool is agitated. (Those barbs also help the fibers stick together in the yarn-spinning process.) The process of making a wool superwash removes all those barbs, which is why you can wash it without fear of felting.

But...removing the barbs from the fiber also renders it Non-Itchy! And that's why I'm using superwash wool now. I can use and wear wool without an allergic reaction. Hallelujah!

I've gotten back into stamp collecting, something I did as a kid in the 50s. I think it was all those recently-acquired vintage envelopes with their old stamps that pushed me over the edge of deciding to do something more formal with the stamps I've been collecting for the last five years. I'll say more about it in my next post.

Early indicators predict that this will likely be a warm and dry winter in California. We had a smattering of rain a few days ago, but I don't think we'll see a lot of it this year. I hope I'm wrong.

Happy Hallowe'en! xx

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Perfect Pair of Socks

I only just finished these, my second pair of socks...and they're perfect!  So now I have that template I was after, from which I can knit socks with abandon. Altho coming up next is a pair of wrist/forearm warmers for moi.

I was kind of busy there for a while,  but things freed up again last week.  I'm back to knitting mostly, and reading, and collaging every day when I can.

The weather has been beautiful. This is indeed the Indian Summer that I was hoping for.

Hope you're enjoying October. Happy Hallowe'en! xx

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Christmas in September

A humble handknit sock, the first one of my first pair in about 10 years. I feel a bit of a commitment to handknit socks now, though, whereas in the past I was experimenting with various handspun yarns, which weren't really sock yarns to begin with. Anyhoo, I'm having fun again with this endeavor.

I'm also using this first pair to try a few different ways to do the customary things on handknitted socks, like cuff, heel flap, and toe. I want to get myself setup with a template that works for me, and always do that.

Boring to do the same thing, you say? I like routine. There's a lot of freedom in routine, in not having to make decisions all the time because things are changing up, often unnecessarily. Anecdote from life: I make pancakes for myself every weekend, and I use the same basic recipe every time. I love them. I have no interest in experimenting in the kitchen with fancy recipes to make something so basic. That's just me.

In other news...the summer was so wacky here, i.e. there was hardly one at all and most days were overcast, that all my Christmas cacti are blooming now!!

That's it for now...short and sweet. Hope you're enjoying early autumn! xx

Friday, September 7, 2018

Going Postal

First off, here's the kimono I completed knitting yesterday. I love how it turned out. It's made with Malabrigo Rios superwash wool, in their Tormenta colorway. I was really iffy about the striping of the yarn, but it works overall and I like it. (Disregard the spots on the mirror on the right side of each photo!)

I had more luck again at last Sunday's flea market, another three boxes of vintage postal stuff.  That makes seven boxes total, although everything has been organized and sorted to where there's actually five boxes now.

I'm selling these vintage goods, as I mentioned previously. I'll only be listing things on Instagram -- in fact, having my first online live sale next Friday and Saturday at 5pm. However, as before, for those of you who might be interested in purchasing anything but you're not on IG, just email me and we'll take it from there. All sales are through PayPal. If you are on IG, find me @connieandbeegee.

Here's a list of what I'll be selling over time.  Eventually I'll get to most or all of it.
  • old holiday greeting postcards
  • old postal postcards (the kind you buy at the P.O.), going back to the 1890s, with various things on the back
  • old small business envelopes
  • old #10 regular-size business envelopes
  • unused old postal postcards
  • unused old postal envelopes
  • a few collections of old picture postcards, from World's Fairs/Expos, and a few site-specific collections from outside the U.S.
  • a small collection to/from soldiers from WWII
  • and more
The last photo is a bunch of other vintage stuff I got in August from a different vendor. All this stuff I'll use or give to penpals.

Life is good here, really good. It's fall already, but we never really had a summer. I wouldn't be surprised if all the smoke from wildfires in the upper atmosphere has impacted the weather this year.

And the wildfire report...soon as one huge one is contained, another huge one starts. Well over 1M acres has burned in California this year alone. Several other countries are having massive wildfires this year, as well.

The world is burning up, sadly. Who knows what's to come...I'm glad I wasn't born later than I was. I got to experience life on Earth before Earth was overrun with people and controlled by oligarchs and corporations.

Have a good month...and do email me if you're interested in any vintage postal goodies.

Monday, August 27, 2018

My "New" Body

Contrary to everyone else celebrating their "new" bodies from weight loss, I'm celebrating that I have finally fully accepted the body that I came into life with...

This body that I spent 60 years trying to reshape via dieting, fasting, diet pills (years ago), working out, and god only knows what else.  Fortunately for me I never had an eating disorder, although I've had a "fat/thin" perception disorder since I was a teenager. (A fat/thin disorder is when you're thin and you look in the mirror and still see yourself as fat.)

Like many women my age, just shy of 70, I was brainwashed to believe I had to be thin or else... Or else what? I wouldn't find a man, would always be rejected, could never really get on with my life as long as I was heavy.

If I could recapture even 10 percent of the time I wasted in my life being obsessed with my weight, whether I was thin enough, whether I could squeeze into a smaller size, whether or not I was the heaviest girl/woman in any group, feeling not as worthy as my thin friends, feeling outcast and sidelined because of my plumpness, holding myself back from so many things because "heavy girls need not apply," ad nauseum.

And it's taken me this long to reprogram myself to stop thinking there's something defective about me because I could never stay a size 8 or 10, or even a 6 at one point.  Every time I lost weight, eventually I gained it back, and then some ~ like everyone else who's been on this merry-go-round for their lifetimes.

So not long ago, I just stopped with all that bullshit. I am now the size I would have been anyway all those years if I hadn't been trying in vain to be smaller than I naturally was.  And now I'm celebrating the body I do have.  I'm zaftig and I really always have been.  I have my father's body; he was a big man although not fat or obese. I wear an average woman's size now.  I'm not obese and never have been (although I was told that I was when I was just a teenager). Many heavier women would give their eye teeth to have the body I have now.

The only way I was ever really able to control my weight and become thinner, was to practically starve myself.  I actually decalcified my bones back in the day when my modus operandi was to do three- to six-week juice fasts periodically. Today I'm healthy, I have no chronic illnesses, and I'm pretty much eating whatever I want these days, albeit mindfully.  Because after all these years, I trust myself.

Thank god the social climate has changed to some degree from when I was younger.  A lot of younger women these days are wearing their flesh like badges of honor.  There's still a long way to go to create any sense of equity for women in our culture who aren't model-thin.  But it's better now than it used to be.

This just came to mind: I was following a page on Instagram for a while, something about style or wisdom in over-50 women.  But I stopped because every single one of the women in their photos were thin.  What about us less-than-skinny women? We have style too, we have wisdom to share, why are we still being left out of the conversation, in 2018?

A very good old book that I recently reread is The Obsession, On The Tyranny of Slenderness, by Kim Chernin. It's from the 80s but is still highly relevant today.  We women have been brainwashed by years of our culture telling us we needed to be other than how we naturally are.  If you're caught in this trap, as so many women still are, I recommend this book for an overview of what our culture has done/continues doing to women. We don't need to buy into it anymore. We need to reclaim the bodies that we were given, take excellent care of ourselves, and just be who we are.

Monday, August 13, 2018

First Flight

At the monthly flea market last weekend, I got another two boxes of vintage envelopes. And hopefully even more at the September market.

So I started selling them, primarily the First Flight Airmail envelopes I got on my original score in July. I'm selling them through Instagram only at this point, have only listed airmail envelopes there thus far.

Most of what I have left at this point are business reply-type envelopes, from the 1900s through the 1960s, the earlier ones with handwritten addresses.  Someone saved every envelope they got with a payment of some sort in it.  MANY envelopes to several banks, a dairy, a chocolate factory, a manufacturing outfit, an outdoor-type magazine from back then.

I am doing "deals" for pals who want a bunch of envelopes. So if you're one of those folks, email me and let's talk. 

Life is otherwise lovely and I'm happy as a clam. Our weather has been overcast/foggy a lot, with mostly sunny afternoons. More like spring weather than our typical summer.  But it's early days yet, and we could get an Indian Summer.  Although there's a touch of autumn in the air already.

Hope you're enjoying your summer.  xx

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Truth in Advertising

Had another big score at a yard sale in Fortuna last week...the images below of books.  Eleven vintage books for $5.50!  A couple are from the late 1800's, and in remarkable shape for their age.  Most of these I won't be cutting up for collages.

And then I went to a flea market in Fortuna yesterday, and found 15 vintage postcards and four books.  No photo.  I guess I'm on a bit of a roll...and there's the monthly flea next Sunday, which I'll attend.

We've really been blessed with good, as in "normal," weather here on the North Coast.  While the rest of the country suffers with extreme heat, flooding, and wildfires.  As per usual, fires are burning north, east and south of us and we're getting smoke.  But no fires in Humboldt County at the moment.

For at least twenty years I've been threatening to cut my hair VERY short...and I finally had it done, ten days ago.  So, this is what I actually look like now.  In my mind I still look like I did when I was 30 years younger...but this is reality.

I will keep my hair very short for the rest of my life.  Enough with the curly hair -- I've never liked it although I did my best for all those years and did have a few good haircuts along the way.  Everyone with straight hair thinks they want curly hair.  But curly hair has been the bane of my existence from the getgo.

I started a knitting project this week.  I'm actually knitting a garment, a shawl-collared, kimono-style, sweater-jacket, from commercial (superwash) wool.  I hadn't bought any commercial yarn in at least twenty years, seeing as I spun so much yarn for over a decade.  And in the recent past I've been knitting scarves out of the remaining handspun silk yarns I have.  But I recently rediscovered my love of knitting, so I'm making a garment, the pattern to which I've had for probably 15 years, although it's still relevant (not dated) today.

So this is life in Rose Cottage this summer -- knitting, reading, resting, hanging with BeeGee, a flea market or yard sale now and then.  Priceless.