Sunday, December 26, 2010

Post # 100 - Celebrating with a Give-Away

This is it!

The milestone 100th post for 2010 is up and as promised in an earlier post, there will be a give-away, albeit a modest one.

Leave a comment following this post and you will be entered into a drawing to win a set of postcards designed by me and suitable for mailing. In order to encourage snail-mail art, I will include postage with each card.

Most of the postcards will consist of color copies on heavy paper, but I will include one or two original postcards, more if we get some snow days off work. A winner will be selected by random drawing in one week on January 2, 2011 and will be one of my earliest posts in the new year.

So, in your comment tell me something having to do with snail mail. Tell me what you still send or about something cool that came recently or a pen pal you had as a kid. Tell me about the terrors of the post office (lost and damaged items) or about your mail carrier. Good tales, bad tales - all are acceptable.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Good Luck
as the French say
Bonne Chance
the Swedes
Lycka Till!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wallace, Grommet and I have been trolling the internet, searching for an appropriate Christmas eve post and after some discussion settled on this one.

Hope you like it.
Merry Christmas
or as they say in Swedish
God Jul!


P.S. Grommet apologizes that the video starts out with a 15 second commercial. Hang in there, we think the video is worth it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Highway Ponderings

The pilgrimage from Virginia to Wisconsin covers over 700 miles and allows plenty of time for stray observations. Gazing at billboards, it occurs to you that once again they have changed Colonel Saunder's image. With every re-imagining he becomes younger and slimmer. Perhaps if I live long enough, the Colonel will morph into a skateboarding 20 some-year-old lad that likes eating chicken.

A recent survey of Americans, ages 18-25 (the key chicken eating demographic apparently) reveals that 61% of these Americans couldn’t identify the man in the KFC logo. In fact, 31% of Americans aren’t familiar with the founder of the largest global chicken chain at all and 52% believe he is simply KFC's corporate creation, another version of Betty Crocker.

1986 Betty 1936

Betty Crocker is an image as well as a brand name and trademark of General Mills. Her name was developed in 1921 by one of the companies that would merge to become General Mills. It was thought that consumers would feel a more a personal connection to the company when they received answers to their mailed product questions signed by Betty Crocker. The name Betty was selected because it sounded cheery and All-American.

Betty's image has been updated 8 times since the first was created in 1936. These portraits were always painted, with no real person ever having posed as a model, and they have never shown the character from the shoulders down.

By comparison Harlan David Saunders was a real person. At the age of 40, Sanders cooked chicken dishes and other meals for people who stopped at his service station in Corbin, Kentucky. Since he did not have a restaurant, he served customers in his living quarters located at the service station. His local popularity grew, and Sanders moved to a motel and restaurant (seated 142 people) where he worked as the chef. Over the next nine years, he developed his "secret recipe" for frying chicken. He made use of a pressure fryer that allowed the chicken to be cooked much faster than the 30 minutes required by pan frying.

He was given the honorary title "Kentucky Colonel" in 1935 by Governor Ruby Laffoon. He was "re-commissioned" as such in 1950 by Governor Lawreence Wetherby.

It wasn't until 1950 that Sanders began developing his distinctive appearance, growing his trademark mustache and goatee and donning a white suit and string tie. He never wore anything else in public during the last 20 years of his life, using a heavy wool suit in the winter and a light cotton suit in the summer.

The route that I follow from my corner of southwestern Virginia to Wisconsin takes me through Corbin, Kentucky, not far from where the Colonel got his start before franchising the whole chicken frying concept. One of these days I do need to stop at his restaurant that is now a museum.

Fun to contemplate an image that has been changed enough times that consumers now believe he is the creation of marketers, while there were once people that thought Betty Crocker was a genuine and real person.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Facial Reconstructive Surgery and Millinery

Ice, Slush and snow coupled with freezing and near freezing temperatures yielded an unexpected day off this past Thursday.

It was such a bonus and perhaps a deserved one, as the weekend had been evaporated by continuing education. The class was a wonderful and added to my skill set, but also left laundry undone and Christmas cards unwritten.

Back in September, while visiting Wisconsin I surely overpaid for this garland of 3 snowmen found at the thrift store, St. Vincent de Paul. I mean paying like $3.50.

That may not seem too awful until you look closely. Akin to the three little kittens that lost their mittens, these fellows had lost their noses; had shiny little glue craters right smack dab in the middle of their faces where their noses ought to be! What kind of foolhardy adventures result in a lost nose, not just for one , but for everybody, I do not even want to know. Then of course these gents only have snow for brains.

So on this bonus day off I engaged in facial reconstructive surgery, rhinoplasty to be specific. Three noses were constructed out Paperclay with drying enhanced via a slow oven. The appendages were painted a pleasing shade of carrot orange and affixed to their faces.

With noses in place, these guys begged for a wee bit of sartorial spiffying. Using a lone orphan sock as the knit material donor, each snowman got a hat and their scarves were refashioned to have more heft and body.

And should you wonder about the lack of gender neutrality in the term snowmen, may I remind you that these gents had some unspecified adventure that resulted in a need for reconstructive surgery.

I find my results esthetically pleasing and the gents appear to be smiling too.



Sunday, December 12, 2010

December Mailboxes

December seems to be the month in which mailboxes rise in prominence. Anticipations of Christmas cards and packages tied up in string, but wait, the post office will not allow string, only packing tape.

And if it seems like you're getting fewer holiday cards this year, don't worry. Chances are it has nothing to do with your popularity.

The practice of sending Christmas cards is fading, collateral damage of the digital age.

The practice of sending Christmas cards is a victim of our time crunched lifestyles and the instant communication to which we have become accustomed.

Each of us must decide whether this is an antiquated waste of time or a cherished holiday ritual. As I have a documented love affair with paper and postage, a few cards will issue forth from my mailbox this year, but not as many in the past.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This little piggy went to market

Actually she looks better prepared for a ballet recital, but perhaps she will go to market if the shoppes are posh enough.

This lovely and somewhat anthropomorphic pig caught my eye while passing an art gallery in Asheville.

I must have been smitten as several pictures were taken.

To close this post I will quote a little Shel Silverstein

Said the pig to his pop,
“There’s the candy shop.
Oh, please let’s go inside.
And I promise I won’t
Make a kid of myself
If you give me a people-back ride.”


Wednesday, December 1, 2010



I've been thinking about blogging and this blog in particular. With this post the blog will be six posts shy of 100 entries for the year. Having noted that, it has become my intention to reach that goalpost by the end of the month and upon attainment to celebrate with a drawing for a give away.

What shall be the prize? That would be simple and natural for a blog entitled Frost Giant Postcard studios, it will be a set of postcards, so you can send art snail-mail to your friends.One of the designs to be included would be the postcard above.

So tune in later this month, to post a comment and have a chance at winning some distinctively odd postcards.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Glitches still exist

I am still having some difficulty using alternate programs and getting my photographs to upload properly.

The 2 photos in this post were supposed to go up with the poem yesterday, but refused to cooperate. Today the oak-leaf hydrangea above imported really tiny and gets all pixelated when attempts are made to enlarge the photo in place.

Loved the look of these pokeweed berries so wanted to include them. Too bad the berries are poisonous to humans. Birds however can eat the berries with impunity.

Pokeweed berries do have other uses, yielding a red ink or dye, which was once used by American Indians to decorate their horses. Many letters written home during the American Civil War were written in pokeberry ink; the writing in these surviving letters appears brown. A rich brown dye can be made by soaking fabrics in fermenting berries in a hollowed-out pumpkin.

Pokeweeds are used as food plants by the caterpillars of some species moths and butterflies including Giant Leopard Moth.


(And for some stupid reason my name does not want to change to normal font, so rest assured I am not shouting at you, just dealing with some unfamiliar computer programs)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quick, some fall photos before the snow flies

The Autumn
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them --
The summer flowers depart --
Sit still -- as all transform'd to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, --
Their presence may be o'er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh'd our mind,
Shall come -- as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind -- view not the woods;
Look out o'er vale and hill-
In spring, the sky encircled them --
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn's scathe -- come winter's cold --
Come change -- and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne'er be desolate.

Just a few fall photos and a poem for you today (before the snow flies).


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seeing and Perception

Our brain first directs where our eyes look and then interprets what it is we see.

An excellent example of this can be found in the two books recently published by Sarah Palin and Barack Obama. Now one is written for adults and the other is a children's book targeted at an age group of 6 to 8, but they do cover some similar ground. There is overlap as both comment on American icons such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Helen Keller.

The points they highlight and the conclusions they reach, not surprisingly, differ a fair amount. Sarah Palin stresses how Lincoln "mentions God 14 times" in his second inaugural address.

While President Obama depicts Lincoln as a man who "promised freedom to enslaved sisters and brothers."

While both statements are true, they certainly represent two pretty distinctive take home messages and no doubt they way you feel about the different interpretations reflect on how you see things.


Monday, November 22, 2010

The French word for pumpkin is citrouille

As you may or may not know, my favorite (and only) daughter currently resides in France. She snagged a position with the French Ministry of Education as a part time assistant teacher of English in the French public school system for this academic year.

As I became aware when I visited the daughter on her first French adventure as a college junior studying abroad, the French have a very different culinary relationship with the pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is simply not available for pie making. They are very confused about the whole Halloween thing. If you are in France on October 31, make your way to an English pub if you wish celebrate the holiday.

These pumpkins while supposedly French were found in Asheville, North Carolina.

French pumpkins are either called citroille or potirons. It seems to me the really large ones are the potirons. An entry on David Lebovitz's fabulous blog tells about cooking French potiron.

Somehow I lost the first letter in the photograph above, it reads:

Jack was never the same after the operation

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's not really writer's block

I woke from dreams this morning with the thought "there is an increased risk of house fire if you let your monkey use a blowtorch to make grilled cheese sandwiches".

One of my coworkers asked if I was experiencing writer's block, an indication that the scarcity of blog posts has been noted. Truth is that I have been having computer issues. Down or uploading photos has been more challenging and pictorial images do seem a crucial component for a lot of my stories.

Hope to have some resolution soon.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Almost Banned at the Kingsport Public Library

This afternoon Wendell Potter gave a keynote speech entitled
Myths and Misconceptions About the New Health Care Law

He spoke at the Bristol Public Library.

Tomorrow he speaks in Kingsport, Tennessee at the Dobyns-Bennett Little Theater from 2:30 to 5:00. Wendell Potter is a former corporate public relations director for insurance giant Cigna that experienced a life changing experience after visiting a Remote Area Medical clinic in Wise, Virginia.

Remote Area Medical clinics provide free medical services to the uninsured. Often thought of as services provided to the third world, such services are now badly needed here in Appalachia.

Born and raised in Mountain City and Kingsport, Tennessee, Wendell Potter saw hundreds of his former neighbors waiting overnight and in long lines to obtain desperately needed medical attention, often in the same areas where livestock are displayed at the Wise County Fairgrounds.

His observations led to a crisis of conscience that ultimately resulted in resigning his position as head of communications at one of the largest health insurers and to become an advocate for meaningful health care reform. He has testified before Congress and is the author of a book "Deadly Spin"due out in November.

If you live on the Tennessee/ Virginia border your Sunday afternoon would be well spent attending this event. Elsewhere you may be able to catch up with Wendell as he tours with his book in November.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

BRRR - Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion

It only took 10 years. The initial Rhythm & Roots Reunion began in September of 2001 with $50,000 in start-up funds from the twin cities of Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia. In its first year, the festival had 40artists and attracted about 7,500 fans.
The poster this year (A Charles Vess design)

Over the past several years coworkers brought back glowing reports about the festival. Schedule conflicts prevented my attendance for at least the past three years. Setting my priorities this year, I delayed starting a trip to Wisconsin in order to attend the 10th annual Bristol event.

Jeff, Andrenne and I at BRRR

The event now features 187 different acts over the 3 day weekend and crowds likely topped last years attendance of 32,000.
Folk Soul Revival

At the festival, artists perform in little alcoves and big stages, 22 stages in all, along State Street. Originally capitalizing on Bristol's heritage as the Birthplace of Country Music, the festival now stretches the genre significantly, encompassing a variety of string instrument and vocal performers.
MSG Acoustic Blues Trio

The current budget approaches $750,000 and while there are big name acts like Ricky Skaggs, small, local talent is well represented. Scheduling demands kept me from attending on Saturday, the biggest day of the festival, but I was well pleased with the acts I took in on Friday and Sunday. Next year I hope to be present all three days.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Beginning to Celebrate

Some of us are lucky enough to know people that bake for us, even if they will only see you Friday and your birthday is not until Monday.

This slice does not fully demonstrate that the cake is four layers of delicousness.

Coworkers were happy to share.

The baker was generous enough to share her recipe.


Dark Chocolate Cake Mix

Raspberry All Friut ( A preserve)

2 Tubs Chocolate Icing

Fresh Raspberries

White chocolate

Bake the cake following the instuctions on the box.

Cool the cake.

Slice the cakes in half to make 4 layers total.


Put All Fruit on the fist layer.

Put Chocolate icing on second layer.

All Fruit on layer three.

Chocolate icing goes on the top and sides.

Top with fresh raspberries.

Drizzle melted white chocolate on top.

Additionally, my baker friend says you can use any flavor of All Fruit. She makes a delcious variation on this cake using orage marmalade instead of All Fruit and then decorates with canned mandarin oranges.