Vintage Thanksgiving Postcard

Happy Thanksgiving! As anger swirls and turmoil upsets days and plans, giving thanks and gratitude is one way I focus on what’s important to me. During these hard times I give heartfelt thanks for friends who battle for justice and freedom.

And while I strive with my friends for progress, I value precious pieces of paper that send messages of fellowship from the distant past.

used-2016-from-farm-small

This eternal sentiment in poetic form: “From farm and field come nature’s yield / In the rich autumn weather / From out the scattered walks of life / The household circle meets together.” And at the end: “May you enjoy this Thanksgiving”

The back of the postcard reads: “Dear Little Adah, I received your card and it was very cute. This turkey looks very good, the one on the other side. Love to you all. Arnolda.”

thanksgiving postcard back used small.jpg

The postmark is from San Jose California, November 25, 1913. The postal cancellation advertises the coming World’s Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, 1915.

Some more vintage Tgiving cards for you! My 2015 post.  My 2014 post. And my 2013 post

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Killing Our Lawn

This guest post written by my wonderful husband George McRae is very timely as California’s long-term drought worsens and it becomes more critical for people to conserve water.

Killing Our Lawn: Or, How We Made the Transition to a Wildlife Refuge, by George McRae

When Heidi and I moved into our house, I saw gardening as a selfish endeavor: vegetables, fruit, flowers were for the enjoyment of humans only. I even installed a lawn, from seed. Then I got involved in local environmental issues in El Cerrito. Creek restoration was at the top of the list, as a branch of Baxter Creek was at the back side of our home. Not wanting to get involved in a “lawn-envy war” with our neighbor, I roto-tilled our parking strip. I terraced it and planted what started out as an English cottage-style garden, but has evolved into a wildlife habitat. The photo on the left is our neighbor’s lawn, our native garden’s on the right.

Front lawns

I started to read National Wildlife Federation literature about how local back and front yards, and even apartment balconies, are the best hope for many endangered species considering how much habitat is being destroyed by development.

Monarch butterfly depositing an egg on milkweed

Monarch butterfly depositing an egg on milkweed

I began planting native California plants everywhere I could fit them in. Our philosophy evolved into, “if a local critter eats it or needs it, we’ll plant it.”

California grape

We registered as an NWF wildlife habitat. We provide food and water.

Squirrels at feeder

Also required: shelter and places for critters to raise their young. We’ve been rewarded many times over by birds, in particular hummingbirds, raising families here year after year.

Hummingbird mother on nest

And insects galore! Monarch, Swallowtail, Skipper, Red Admirable (Admiral), Painted lady, Dragonfly…. an endless list of species, come here to lay eggs on the plants we provide them.

Anise swallowtail butterfly laying egg on fennel

Other benefits? With the abundance of California native plants, our water bill is extremely low. We use no pesticides or fertilizers, so we’re not adding downstream pollutants to the biosphere. We evaluate any weed as a possible food source. If not, we hand pull. We use no herbicides, as they are proven amphibian killers. We rarely use power gardening tools, reducing our addition to air and noise pollution and global warming. We prune our trees and weed carefully and during seasons when we won’t upset nesting cycles of birds, insects and mammals.

Towhee eggs in nest

Towhee eggs in nest

W H A T  C A N  Y O U  D O ?

1) Plant local native plants in as many varieties as possible, from grasses to flowering trees, like ceanothus. California bunch grasses have deep roots and hold soils together, preventing erosion and drawing deep moisture to the surface for other plants. Many butterflies use them as larval food sources. Grasses are the basis of a sound ecosystem.

Some local nurseries to learn more and buy natives:

California Native Plant Society (East Bay), Native Here Nursery

Watershed Nursery

Bay Natives Nursery

Honeybee on fennel flower

2) Before you prune, thin or remove trees, shrubbery or other plants, make sure you’re not disturbing nesting sites or life cycles for birds, insects or other critters making a home there. Late August through late November is best, but be aware that hummingbirds can nest all year long!

3) Certify your garden as a wildlife habitat through the National Wildlife Federation

A Joyful Easter

Happy Passover and Easter! I don’t have any vintage postcards showing a seder, but am happy to share two wonderful vintage embossed Easter cards from my collection.

Vintage Easter postcard

A newly hatched chick posing on a gleaming dark gold egg-shaped background wishes us A Joyful Easter. I adore the Art Nouveau typeface and flourishes gorgeously frame the little hen. The postcard was never mailed, and there’s no message on the back.

Vintage Easter postcardIn this card dated April 17, 1911, a dapper Easter bunny clad in a fancy morning suitjacket and equipped with his umbrella (for April showers) doffs his top hat at the wide-eyed little chick. The gleaming gold egg (we have a theme!) is adorned with a deeply-embossed and finely detailed pansy and lily flower.

The card reads: “Dearest Mother, Hope the bunny brings you many joys on this day. Yours lovingly, Edith.” There’s no stamp or postmark, so Edith probably delivered the card by hand to her mother.

Check out more of my vintage Easter postcards at:

Mad Hens, 2012

Happy Peeps-Day, 2013

Vintage Easter Greetings, 2014

A Vintage New Year

To start off 2015 right, I bring you a gorgeous Happy New Year postcard.

Happy New Year vintage postcard

Three brilliantly-colored birds perch on a snow-sprinkled branch. All of the details: the birds and their meticulously drawn feathers, the gold banner, the festive holly branch with red berries, and the lettering: “A Happy New Year” are embossed. There’s no message or postmark on the back. A copyright on the front has a date of 1911.

Want to see more? I showed you two other wonderful vintage New Year’s postcards in this blog post. And in this post I showed you a matched pair of Christmas and New Year cards.

Happy New Year! May you send and receive many postcards this year.

Top Twelve of 2014

For the last oh-don’t-even-ask-how-many years I’ve created a calendar to give George for Christmas. I design 12 pages of my photos from the year, each with a different category from our lives together, and a “Greatest Hits” cover. My walk down Memory Lane means hours poring through all of the year’s images (more than 3,000 in 2014) to pick out the treasures, which I collage into pages for each month. This is the May page: Bees!

George's 2015 calendar: Bees

During my journey through 2014, I pulled out 12 of my favorites to show off. First, this closeup photo of a honeybee landing on a fennel flower went onto the calendar’s cover.

Honeybee on fennel flower

I shot this beautiful Great Blue Heron strolling through a field next to the driveway at Ardenwood Farm, our favorite East Bay Park.

Great Blue Heron

I love the colors, and the delicate and intricate swoops of this bromeliad flower (Billbergia nutans) that bloomed in our garden in January.

Billbergia nutans

In February, George worked hard behind the scenes at the Pacific Orchid Exposition. I’m so proud of his accomplishments as current president of the San Francisco Orchid Society!

George at Pacific Orchid Expo

We found some glorious Calypso Orchids during our hike on Mount Tam in March.

Calypso orchid at Mount Tam

Of the zillion hummingbird photos I took this year, I love the attitude of this Anna’s, and his glorious magenta crown.

Anna's hummingbird

George’s Tiger Lilies bloomed in July, just in time for our birthdays!

Tiger lily

Speaking of birthdays – we celebrated George’s at the fabulous Oakland Zoo. He wants this lion tattooed over his heart, what do you think?

Lion at Oakland Zoo

Of my many 2014 photos of our children, this is my favorite of the furry ones. Daisy is our one-year old sweet and rambunctious young lady, and Lars our wonderful round-faced Russian Blue. It took a while, but they finally get along (well, mostly).

Lars and Daisy

And I can’t leave out my top photo of our feathered children – George cuddling Maureen and Louise while Gloria waits for a space on his lap.

George and hens

Sadly, we didn’t find many monarch butterflies on Albany Hill for the annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count. Several flew around, but we saw no clusters. This one rested on a tree branch. To compare, click here to see my 2011 blog post — a photo near the end of the post shows a large cluster of monarchs in the eucalyptus grove on the Hill.

Monarch Butterfly at Albany Hill

2014 was a bumper year for Anise Swallowtail butterflies, though. This caterpillar happily munched on the fennel in our garden.

Anise swallowtail butterfly caterpillar on fennel

Do you keep a journal, or go through your photos at the end of the year? I’d love to hear about your favorites! Wishing you all sweet memories of 2014, and many more for 2015.

 

Vintage Turkey Day Postcards

One of my favorite holiday rituals is pulling out my vintage postcard collection to enjoy the wonderful old cards. Last year at this time I showed you three of my favorite Thanksgiving cards. Time for two more!

Thanksgiving postcardI love this type of postcard. where the embossing is the focus of the design. The words “Thanksgiving Greetings” have no color at all; the raised shape of the letters and the shadows thrown have a subtle beauty. And the embossing on the turkey’s feathers is impressive, each feather so carefully drawn and cross-hatched.

The back of the card is so intriguing. On November 24th, 1908, Walter B. of Fremont Nebraska wrote to Miss Anna Okerbloom of Omaha Nebraska: “Dear Friend, What’s the matter? Didn’t you receive my last card or don’t you want to acknowledge it.” We’ve all been there, right? Brave Walter to ask!

A more traditional card, brightly colored, shows a family of turkeys, apparently unaware of their fate – or perhaps Mother is saying farewell to her chicks?

Thanksgiving day The turkeys’ feathers are slightly embossed. The back of the card isn’t nearly as interesting as the first; it was sent in 1908 to Miss Amethyst Wickham of Utica NY, the message only: “With love from Aunt Katie.”

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it!

Cards Hot Off the Press!

You know that rush of relief when you check things off that have been haunting your to-do list for too long? I am supremely happy that I met one of my biggest goals before the end of 2014. Way back in March I told you that the wonderful sales rep who was selling my greeting cards to stores stopped repping. It took me awhile to scramble back to my feet, to decide to sell my cards on my own, and to master the many moving parts involved in that.

Greeting cards

Designing a brochure was a big part of the project, since I can’t go visit each store to show them my cards. I kept it simple (just the facts, ma’am) – a nice large photo of each card, its number, and basic info.

Greeting cards

My wonderful local printer, Jayne at Cerrito Printing, made the process easy and affordable, and I think the brochure turned out beautifully! Hummingbird cards take up 3 pages, the largest portion of my line.

Greeting cardsButterfly cards are really popular.

Greeting cardsA lot of garden stores order the flower cards, and few can resist the squirrels!

Greeting cardsThe back page has an enlarged image of my favorite card and more order info. But wait, by the time the brochure was printed I had added another large task to my to-do list – I decided to design eight new cards. When those were all printed (thanks, Cerrito Printing!) I designed an insert page to show them off, and even had room for an order form.

Greeting cards

So now I’m well on my way selling my own cards, a lot of work but really fulfilling. If you know of any shops that carry my kinda greeting cards, also garden stores or nurseries, send me an email with the name of the store and I’ll contact them! You can click here to see my entire card line, and here’s a link to the brochure as a pdf