Pinkies Up in Appreciation of You

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When I was a kid, the phrase “proper etiquette” was never too far off the tip of my mother’s, teacher’s, and other authority figure’s tongue. There was just this set of certain rules you had to follow else you’d be considered uncivilized and therefore shunned from society, along with your parents who obviously were at fault for not teaching you better. So I learned the rules, such as to always place my napkin on my lap, never put my elbows on the dining room table, send thank you notes to those I received gifts from within 24 hours, wear white gloves when going out to a restaurant, and never wear a white skirt or slacks before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. There were a couple hundred other rules just like that, as well.

When I became a teenager in the mid-1960’s, at the height of Haight-Ashbury’s heyday, I rebelled against the rigid rules of my parent’s generation (which seemed to have gone back to pre-Edwardian manners). I had a problem with even the concept of anyone making rules of how I should dress or with what hand I could hold my fork as such intrusions on my personal liberty seemed to me to be completely against nature, despite how trivial those particular rules were. The fact that no actual harm to anyone or anything would occur if such rules were not followed – other than harm inflicted by those intent on punishing such “wrong” behavior – struck me as grossly unjust and a symptom of an unimaginative society trying to place everyone into their little labeled boxes so they (society) wouldn’t have to think too hard or have to actually examine the logic of their beliefs. I was hardly alone in that rebellion as even a quick skim through any news archives around the world will attest to.

Every generation since the time of Plato, if not before, has recognized that teenagers, in general, feel their parent’s generation are “old fashioned” and overly strict and that they (the younger ones) are far more intelligent. Yet it has been relatively rare for the specific focus of such rebellion to outlast not only the teen years but to continue on through subsequent generations as well. I’ve no formal education in this area, but I would venture a guess that the reason for this rarity is simply due to the fact that on the road to maturity, we experience the natural consequences of what happens when we or others do not follow certain rules of civility, until it finally leads to an “Aha!” moment – and then the cycle begins again with us as the old-fashioned parents instead.

The rebellion against society that came to the forefront in the 1960’s was far more complicated that this “usual” type of teenage angst and rejection of tradition though, as it included far larger issues such as racial and gender equality, isolationism, responsibility for our neighbors, and even the very existence of God. In reality, those issues had actually been in the making since the 1840’s when Darwin and the Industrial Age gave rise and opportunity to ponder such existential questions. Thereafter, it was only due to the advances in communications technology (i.e. television, transatlantic telephones, etc.) that permitted the questions and debates in response to them, to be shared with the masses. And most spectacularly of all was that, for the first time in history, the masses were largely literate and educated enough to join in the conversation, which in turn forced serious consideration and decisions upon our elders and our governments.

Fifty years later, we’ve come a long way but as is typical for humans, it’s been a journey of three steps forward and two steps back. So we’ve still got a long, long way to go in figuring out which rules of society go to the heart of what it takes for individuals to live and work peacefully and productively together and which rules only serve to divide us. For isn’t that the weight we should be measuring such rules by?

With that standard in mind, On my own personal journey to maturity, I re-evaluated each of those rules of etiquette embodied in books by the likes of Emily Post, Amy Vanderbilt, and Letitia Baldridge. In raising my own child, I threw out the white gloves and rules about what color you could wear at what time of year and such but I did return to the “rules” about writing Thank You Notes and other such niceties as I came to understand the importance of taking the time to let people know you appreciate their acts of kindness and generosity. And like many of my generation, I’ve tried to take this concept even further by ensuring I tell people that I simply appreciate them – for who they are – and their presence in my life. For it is through these small but sincere gestures that we all have the power to help another feel good and to make the world a little more pleasant to live in. It is an act which tends to infect the actor, the receiver and even those who merely witnessed its’ occurrence. Now that’s an epidemic I’d love to spread!

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)

ThankYou-1

ThankYou-3

ThankYou-4

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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

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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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It’s Always Mother’s Day In Heaven

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I used to dread Mother’s Day. Like way too many people, I had a difficult childhood growing up and as an adult, I had an inconsistent relationship with my mother. At times it was really wonderful but more often, it was tumultuous. My mother was an absolutely beautiful woman – she looked like a fashion model – she was bright, vivacious, had a great sense of humor, adored animals, volunteered as a Brownie and Girl Scout Counselor, volunteered at the local Veterans Hospital, wrote poetry, loved going to the movies, art museums, live theater, and reading trashy novels. Yet I don’t think that she ever was genuinely happy or comfortable inside her skin. There was always an undercurrent of fear and anger and estrangement. She was extremely critical of her children – on purpose. She believed parents are supposed to point out every single error their child may make or non-perfect trait their child may have. I never once doubted that her intent was good – she truly wanted to help us to be the best we could be – but her way of going about it could really hurt. Mom never learned how to simply observe and listen to her children (or her husbands for that matter) and so was incapable of providing guidance in a subtle, respectful way. Essentially, she never figured out how to differentiate between herself and her family. What I mean by that is, there is a huge difference between recognizing your child may have inherited this or that physical and non-physical traits from you and keeping in mind that you are responsible for keeping them healthy and safe and teaching them the skills and values needed to stand on their own as a kind, wise, loving adult and contributing member to society – versus – thinking your children are an actual extension of yourself. My Mom was unable to grasp this concept and I think she was aware that there was some great important “secret” she was missing and was deeply troubled as a result.

Even as a very young child, a part of me always understood, instinctively, that my mother was hurting and “broken” in some way and I knew that it wasn’t totally her fault. Although I loved her very much and felt great compassion for her, at the same time, I was always terrified around my mother, even as an adult, as I never knew when she would suddenly change from my gorgeous, fun “Momma” to the screaming, violent stranger that lived deep inside her. It got so bad that when I was 14, I was placed in a Foster Home for a year (with a very loving family whom I remain close to even to this day, forty years later.) At 17, I moved out on my own, 1500 miles away, as I feared for my life. Yet I never stopped loving my Mom. I kept in touch with her through occasional letters and phone calls every couple of weeks and we actually were able to grow closer that way from a safe distance. But even then, Mother’s Day was always the worst day of the year, regardless of where I lived. Perhaps it was because of her insecurities as a person and especially as a mother, that made Momma pin such intense importance to the day. Whatever, I knew that for the last few weeks of April, she would begin the harping, begging, then screaming and finally the “silent treatment” when she realized that I would not be coming down to Florida to see her. It was both heartbreaking and aggravating and got worse every year but I knew that it was for the best in the long run that I stay far away.

It’s been a dozen years now since my Mom tragically passed away at a relatively early age. Now, rather than dreading Mother’s Day and trembling inside with terror, I find myself with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, and praying that she can see me and hear me and feel what’s inside my heart. Not a day has gone by in my entire life that I have not spent a significant amount of time thinking about my Mom. Time, distance, and having to face my own mortality has been kind when it comes to my memories and relationship with my Mother. I haven’t forgotten there were bad times, but 90% of the time, I’m thinking about the good times. Although my Mom thought she was a complete failure as a mother, the fact she indeed didn’t always have the best of parenting skills, and found it impossible to live by what she preached, I marvel at how much my mother really taught me and how much I’ve relied on her words of wisdom in my adult life and in raising my son. I talk to her all the time these days – inside my head and inside my heart – and I feel like she is with me – not as she was, but as she wanted to be: relaxed, happy, wise, content, and supportive.

Is there such a thing as Heaven after we die? Logistically, I have a very hard time trying to figure out how that would work and where it may be and even why it would even exist. But spiritually, I like to think that Heaven is all around and within us and that Momma is finally at peace and enjoying Mother’s Day – with me right beside her – every single day.

Happy Mother’s Day, my friends.

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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)

FantasyPansies

HappyMother'sDay

Katie-Geranium

HappyMother'sDay2

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I FELT that!

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First, too all of my readers of the Jewish faith, I wish you all a Happy Passover. May you always be blessed with freedom – May you always cherish that freedom – and – May you always do whatever you are able to do to help liberate any and all of those people around the world that remain in bondage so that they to may enjoy the same freedom we regard as an “inherent right” of ALL people – everywhere – regardless of their race, creed, religion, gender, sexual preference, or political persuasion.

Second, I once again find myself apologizing for the skimpiness of content tonight as far as having anything particularly interesting, enlightening, funny, or simply thoughtful to contribute along with tonight’s offering of free icons/clip art that I have created just for you. I think I have a fairly good excuse though (or at least a different excuse than my “normal” reason for a minimum of research and essay (which usually is related to my health). What has distracted me from using the time I normally set aside for researching and writing my posts is that I came across a Blog I had previously been unaware of and found myself engaged in a really interesting conversation with that Blog’s two hosts on a wide range of topics that were essentially spokes in a wheel where the central hub is the cross-roads between the recent Health Care Bill (a.k.a. “Obama-Care”) and morality. I have promised to educate myself much more about these two hosts who are both obviously very intelligent and caring while at the same often hold different opinions from each other in their intellectual, philosophical and theological debates. I am intrigued and personally like to know more about them and read some of their earlier posts as I’ve the feeling there is much to be learned from them. If you’re looking to widen your own horizons or have an opinion on such topics that you’d like to share, I highly recommend a visit to their Blog titled “Russell and Duenes“. The particular post which I’ve referred to can be found at this link.

Tonight’s selection of free artwork is a continuation of my series “Felted”. 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 – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

Felted-Wordpress

Felted-User Felted-User-2

Felted-Floral-Heart-Frame

Felted-PrivateFldr Felted-Downloads

Felted-Twitter2

Felted-BurnFldr Felted-DocsFldr

Felted-Fetch

Felted-PublicFldr Felted-PixFldr

Felted-Apple (OS)

Felted-FetchDocs Felted-systemFldr

Felted-Roses

Felted-MultiMediaFLdr Felted-Uploads

Felted-Fldr-Apps2

I’ve FELT Spring In The Air!

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With the sunshine and warm temperatures this week, we have crocuses in bloom all around the yard and a family of 5 deer arrived to feed on them. As much as I love the blossoms, I just don’t have the heart to shoo the deer away. So much construction in the neighborhood the past 5 years has just about wiped out their feeding grounds and the poor animals are starving. The suburb I live in has made it against the law to feed the deer (along with the occasional bear and mountain lion) because it allows them to survive and proliferate. In other words, they want the wild life to starve to death, else they’ll become “pests” and have to be shot.

Now, I’m not a fanatic by any means and I understand that humans have needs and rights, as well. But the theory behind the law is a lot harder to take when I find myself face to face with a doe and her fawns. Somehow, being near the top of the food chain isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Yeah, I admit it. I’m a wimp when it comes to Bambi and Thumper.

What bugs me most about it though is that while all this “new” construction has replaced what had formerly been woodlands, there are blocks of homes and commercial buildings that stand unwanted, empty, and rotting and attracting their own brand of “wild life” as a result. It seems so wasteful and cruel to allow this sprawl to continue while there already is land to be used. From my experience working in the construction field, I’m well aware of the costs and other possible negatives of having to demolish an existing building and do environmental clean-up. But such endeavors are in the best interests of the whole community so those costs should be off-set in part through tax incentives and other public funds. That’s how it works in some neighborhoods or for certain types of buildings – but not all. And so the creeping blight and hungry deer continue to grow.

Sorry, folks. I hadn’t intended to get into a rant here tonight.

What I did intend to do was to welcome my second favorite season of the year – Spring – and note that Easter is early this year and just around the corner. To celebrate it all, I’ve created a great big icon/clip art set in a style that mimics those felt cut-outs we made back in grade school and bright green felt desktops and scrapbook album pages to serve as a suitable backdrop. Along with the Easter themed images, I’ve included a new alphabet (also felted) that includes all capitals, small letters, numerals, punctuation and some commonly used symbols. 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 – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

Felted Violets

Felted-Bunny-1 Felted-Bunny-2

Felted-Poppies

felted-egg-2 Felted-Egg-1

Felted-Rose Felted-Egg-3

Felted-Easter-Basket

Felted-Alphabet-Preview

Download is a zipped file containing #26 Capital Letters, #26 Lower-Case Letters, #0-9, plus assorted punctuation and common symbols.

Felted Desktop Preview

Download is a zipped file contains backgrounds in the following sizes: 1920×1200 (px), 1600×1200 (px), and 1024×768 (px).

TopHat – Alpha-Numeric Icons

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I’m old enough to remember the days before personal computers, when graphic artists turned to a family of products collectively known as “press-type” or “dry transfer type” as an alternative to hand-drawn lettering for advertising layouts and other printed materials. For $4.00-$7.00 you’d get an 8.5″x11″ sheet of waxed paper with as many letters, numerals, punctuation marks, and/or ding-bats that could fit on the page, depending on the type-size,type-face, and type-style. (note the difference in jargon as back then there were no “fonts”) To get them off the wax paper onto the mock-up, you’d place the sheet wrong-side up positioned exactly where you wanted it and use a metal or plastic burnishing tool and very firmly but gently rub each individual character off the wax and onto your paper. It was a real pain if you made a mistake either in placement or in execution as you’d have to gently scratch off the character with a razor blade without harming the paper below it. Believe it or not, when press-type was first invented, it was considered a real time saver! It also allowed the grunt-job of doing the “keylining” or “paste-up” to be done by lower-level employees so the graphic artists and art directors were freed up for more creative or skilled tasks.

With the advent of personal computers and particularly the Mac (which inspired the development of the first graphics application), press-type pretty-much went the way of the dinosaurs. There’s a plethora of fonts available now and they can be manipulated further in a wide variety of apps including word-processors, page-layout and graphics based. But the concept of having the digital equivalent of press-type available on your computer for quick and easy spot jobs where you only need a letter or two or a handful of words, is still compelling. Hence, I’ve created several icon series in a variety of styles which consist of each letter of the alphabet, cardinal numerals, punctuation marks, and a handful of coordinated decorative that could be used as ding-bats. Tonight’s offering is titled: TopHat. Enjoy!

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save all of the full-size images image(s) in a single zipped file 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.