Simple Pleasures

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It turned bitter cold today and we were treated to Cleveland’s lake effect snow, caused by north-eastern windows coming down from Canada and across Lake Erie. We’re just on the receiving end and the high winds blew the fallen leaves from our neighbor’s trees into our backyard. The way our home is situated on the property, and being at the bottom of one of the many rolling hills at this end of town, the leaves from ALL of our neighbors like to gather here each year. And so the bunnies , deer, and crows like to congregate here as well, snuggling beneath the leaves, and munching on our garden. A lot of suburban folks would be pulling out their hair, searching for critter repellents, and cursing Cleveland for it’s volatile weather. But for some reason, this is my favorite time of the year and I’m happy our yard can provide a small refuge.

Today’s weather and a phone call reminded me that Thanksgiving will be here next week. Kind of ironic that I needed that reminder, seeing how I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last couple of months creating holiday artwork for greetings cards and gifts. But the days all blend together for me as there really is nothing to distinguish one day from another – or even day from night, so it’s easy to lose track of the date. That’s a whole ‘nother post for another day, though. Today, I’m just enjoying the view out my bedroom window and trying to get into shape for Thanksgiving by going over my mental list of all that I’m thankful for this year. From the outside, it might look as if that list would be almost nonexistent, but from the inside I feel terribly blessed. The interesting thing is that the more frequently I focus on counting my blessing, the bigger that list becomes. Try it yourself and let me know whether it works that way for you, too. I’ve a hunch that it will.

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered in the “Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day” section are free for your personal use, subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for Terms of Use) For commercial or any other use, please contact me for directly.

turkey-512x512-talk

turkey-512x512-Say What?

Count Your Blessings_5x7

Downloaded image is print quality 5x7" 300dpi

WHAT’S NEW ON ZAZZLE

IMAGE NAME
I Am The Woman
Ginko leaves and a soaring gull frame the sentiments in this lovely Art Nouveau inspired design by IconDoIt. Text is the title of an original poem by Leslie Sigal Javorek (read here) – or change it for your own message.
Ladies of Art Nouveau BS
Ladies of Art Nouveau BS
Cozy Black Hoodie features this sensational original tromp l’oeil (‘fool the eye’) by IconDoIt creates the appearance of a vintage gold necklace with framed, hand-painted enamel portraits of 3 of the most enduring, beloved models (Evelyn Nesbit, Maude Adams, and Lily Elsie) favored by Art Nouveau artists such as Alphonse Mucha and Charles Gibson.

A Summer of Hummingbirds

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First things first. Over this last weekend, I created a new page for this Blog, titled “Hot Links” where I have gathered some of my favorite websites, blogs, and resources on the Internet. While I’ve still kept links already in the right-hand sidebar of my pages, I just had so many more that I wanted to share with my readers – and hope you’ll add to it, too. I’ve kept the links there as text-only to cut down on the loading time. Hop on over there when you get a chance and let me know what you think.

As for the title of this morning’s post, “A Summer of Hummingbirds”, this is the title of a fascinating book I’ve read by author, Christopher Benfey. Published in 2008, it has the intriguing sub-title of “Love, Art, and Scandal in the Intersecting Worlds of Emily DIckinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, & Martin Johnson Heade”. Anyone who is a history, sociology, or biography buff will enjoy this easy to read treatise that interweave glimpses of pre and post Civil War American society through the eyes of these famed authors, artists. Their lives not only touch each other in unexpected ways but Benfey has managed to reveal insight into these personalities, the influences upon them and the imprint they left for future generations without resorting to heavy-handed background detail or moralistic commentary that historians and biographers often fall prey to. The central theme of hummingbirds not only runs through the lives of the central characters, it is a theme which those characters and this book’s author view[ed] as an allegory for the entire era that saw the social fabric of America (and much of the world, as well) brought into question and literally torn apart. Suddenly, the “younger generation” growing up in the 1840’s began to question and discard the old traditions and attitudes of their parents regarding the concepts of nature, religion, sexuality, family, time, eroticism, and beauty. Not being familiar in the least with anything to do with Hummingbirds, despite having enjoyed Dickinson, Twain, Stowe and Heade for years, I had never picked up on this common thread between them much less recognized that every one of them had been drawn to this species and beheld it as a symbol in their works where the bird was never just a bird.

So whether you’re into history, sociology, biography, birding, the US, or Brazil (which was not only a newly sovereign nation back then but it’s Amazon River and Rainforest serves as home to the world’s largest population of Hummingbirds), this is a book I’m sure you’ll take pleasure in. You can buy it here.

Of course, how can I not offer with this review a selection of Hummingbird art? Enjoy!

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

Hummingbird 3

Hummingbird & Flower 2

Hummingbird 4Hummingbird

Hummingbird & Flower

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Rx: Silliness & Laughter Daily

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My friend, “Dogkisses” has once again inspired me as a result of one of her comments to a prior post. This time, her comments led me to create images that purely stand for a bit of silliness and fun. Included in tonight’s offering, you’ll find my very own “daughter”, Lamb-Patty, as the camera caught her in her first solo flight. I think Shari Lewis, who first brought her Lamb Chop puppet to life and into our hearts so many years ago, would approve. To give the remaining credits where due, I offer thanks to Jim Henson for his irrepressible Kermit the Frog whom I’ve depicted in his very own race car.

Enjoy!

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

FunkyChicken

AirLambda-512

Kermit-Racer-2

Eleanor-Phant

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Lilacs & Cardinal

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I am very weary tonight and so shall just leave you with these images, drawn from my memory, of the view outside our dining room window when I was a small child. Enjoy

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Share Alike – Attribution – No Derivatives 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

Out-My-Window

Cardinals&Lilacs2

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Nope.

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And the answer is? I haven’t the foggiest idea. The 4DCA didn’t post their opinion on my case yesterday, so I remain on justice watch. Even more frustrating is a “FAQ” I read today that was recently posted on the Appellate Court’s website that advised anyone wanting to know, that the average time between the judge’s conference on a case and when their written opinion is published is 180 days. That’s six full months!! And that is for “average” cases (which I suspect mine is not). So it sounds like I may have to stay in the dark until sometime in September – or even longer. And that may not be the end of it in the event they send the case back to the trial court for more determinations (such as the amount for legal fees and/or other sums. While I am glad they are taking the time to do a thorough job in reading the record and researching the applicable law and whatever else they do during this process, it is very nerve-wracking in general, but especially given my health.

Way back in 2003, just as I was starting on my second round of chemo, I was told that if it wasn’t successful, then I had a statistical chance of being able to survive only another 5 years. Well, while that round (which I was on for 12 months) and then a third round (which I was on for 15 months) did give my liver a reprieve while I was on the chemo, they both failed to get rid of the Hepatitis C virus which has been turning my liver to stone. And the genetic disorder (Hereditary Hemochromatosis) which put me at high risk for Hep C in the first place (and may actually have caused it) is wreaking havoc with my body in roller-coaster fashion, as it shifts from one problem to another and the intensity of the effects likewise rises and falls to extremes from one day to the next – and sometimes from one moment to the next.

If I didn’t have my artwork to bury my consciousness in, I don’t know that I could stand it. While I have somehow, miraculously, been able to survive this long (2 years past the original prognosis I was given) there is no way to foretell how much longer before my body gives out. Because the severity of the side-effects of the chemo (which are particularly severe in my case due to the combination of diseases and conditions I suffer from), my team of doctors feel that it is far too risky to put me through yet another round because, at this point, the side-effects of the chemo would probably kill me even faster than the diseases. So my only hope now (beyond a miracle) is to try to stay as calm as possible since stress is known to accelerate the disease process and weaken the immune system), until, hopefully, modern medicine comes up with some alternative “cure” or treatment. Whether or not I’ll still be alive when the court finally issues its opinion – or when this case is completely over on every possible level – only God knows and time will tell.

Now, as I’ve indulged myself in negative thoughts far beyond my allotment, forget I said all the above and let’s get on to something far more interesting and pleasant. Like… this morning’s freebies! What I’ve got for you today is somewhat hard to categorize. It is purely art for art’s sake – don’t know whether it’s the least bit useful for anything – but it was fun to create. My inspiration for this, believe it or not, was the cover art for a box of French cigarettes you may or may not be familiar with: Gitanes. I hope you enjoy!

Enjoy!

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

Against-The-Sun

Photos

AgainstTheSun

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Victorian Clip-Art & Icons

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This past week has been a heavy one as my 91 year-old Mother-in-law moved from our home into a residential nursing facility. My thoughts and feelings about it are still in too much of a jumble to put words to them yet and I am extremely weary and weak tonight. I did not want to let too many days go by without posting though and so here I am.

For today’s goodies, I’ve pulled out of my stockpile a selection from a series of Victorian themed original clip art and icons I have been working on and off over the past couple of years. They are probably best suited for scrapbooking and cards rather than icons but I leave that decision up to you. Enjoy!

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

ntryVic_ParlorEntry-2

Vic_LibraryWindowVic_Desktop

Vic_DeskGlobeVic_Library

Vic_ShoeVic_Shoe-2

Vic_BirdieVic_Lace

Vic_EyeglassesVic_Portrait

A Comeuppance (& Twitter Birds)

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For those of you unfamiliar with MacThemes, it’s a wonderful resource not only for finding the cream of the crop of freeware and shareware icon, wallpaper, and skins, but also a great place to go for advice on how to create such interface elements and how to improve your designs. I’ve been a silent visitor to that site for several years and just last Friday, decided to go ahead and post an announcement there of the release of my Art Deco Series of icons and included a handful of examples. To put it mildly, my offering didn’t quite get the reaction I had either expected or hoped for and it really threw me for a loop at first. But after reflecting on all the comments (over 40 to a single posting, which is more than I’ve gotten to all the posts on this blog combined!) – I realized that I needn’t be so glum. For one thing, the controversy drew a number of visitors to my blog who had not been aware of it before. (Echos of the old smart-ass saying “There’s no such thing as bad publicity as long as they spell your name right”) But more importantly, a few of the latter comments actually offered some very specific, constructive criticism. As to the hints about technical execution, I am reminded that not all users have the same set-up as I (I’m working on a MacBookPro, OSX 4.11, 1920×1200 resolution with millions of colors on a matte-finished LCD screen and have all my Finder views set to 128×128 icons) – and so need to make sure that my icons look good at ALL sizes and all possible resolutions. Before I was forced to retire, I wouldn’t have thought twice about investing whatever was necessary to keep current with the tools of my trade but without any means for a return on that investment, I’d been reluctant to upgrade to the Leopard system which actually uses the 512×512 size as well as 32-bit graphics because I wasn’t sure I could justify the cost of having to likewise upgrade most of my software. This is something I need to reassess.

As to the comments that said my icons looked “dated”: The difficult part is trying to figure out how to meet the marketplace trends without having to give up my own personality in the process. I had always thought that the idea of third-parties creating icons for use as alternatives to the originals embedded in their operating system and applications was to give a choice for those who wanted something more distinctive. Yet if the perceived quality of those 3rd party icons is substantially based upon their compliance with this month’s committee-determined color palette and Apple’s or Microsoft’s chosen viewing perspective and lighting effects, then don’t we just end up with cookie-cutter icons that have barely perceptible differences from the original? And how does one fit within the confines of the latest trends even when trying to depict a specific historic period and style?

I’ve got a lot to mull over, research, experiment with, and hopefully will improve. I made a first stab at it over the weekend as you can see from the following side-by-side comparison. (Don’t bother trying to download this preview as there is no release at this time on the revised version as it’s just at the beginning stages – but if you’ve got any thoughts on these, preferences, constructive criticism, etc. I would love to hear from you in a reply to this post.)

Comparator

As for tonight’s offering of downloadable icons/clip-art, I’ve created the following half dozen specimens that can be used on your desktop for Twitter – or wherever else that might strike your fancy. Enjoy!

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered in the “Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day” section are free for your personal use, subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for Terms of Use) For commercial or any other use, please contact me for directly.

Bird-in-Tree-5Bird-in-Tree-3

Bird-in-Tree-11Bird-3

Bird-in-Tree-10Bird-in-Tree-7