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

Thelonious the Foster Cat

George has been volunteering at Fix Our Ferals, a local spay-neuter clinic, for several years now, and feeding feral cat colonies for nearly that long, but we hadn’t taken the next step – fostering cats waiting to be adopted. Finally, about a month ago George caught one of the cats that he feeds, brought her to be spayed, and decided that she was socialized and definitely adoptable.

Hermione foster cat

Foster situations range from doing it on your own up to formally volunteering with an established group. With Hermione we really lucked out – she was accepted into the adoption program at the San Francisco SPCAand was quickly adopted! Next, coming to the rescue of a friend who just couldn’t squeeze one more foster in (you know there’s a crazy cat lady tipping limit), we took in Buttercup.

Buttercup foster cat

A very affectionate little girl, Buttercup captured the heart of her new parents the very first time at a pet store adoption, and George settled her into her forever home last week. Right now we’re completely smitten with the sweetest 8-month old tabby with a kissable white streak on his nose, white stockings, and extra toes on his front feet (polydactyl).

Thelonious foster cat

We named him after Thelonious Monk, George’s favorite jazz pianist. He’s a super friendly cat who doesn’t stop purring.

Thelonious foster catInterested in learning how to help by fostering in the East Bay, or looking to adopt a dog or cat? Send me an email at heidirand [@] gmail and I’ll pass your question on to the experts.

Gathering O’ The Swarm

It’s spring-time warm here, and local bees with so much pollen and nectar to gather are thriving, which leads to … swarms! A friend directed a neighbor less than a mile away to beekeeper George to gather a swarm that settled on their house.

Bee swarm

The relatively flat roof was ideal for George to clamber onto by ladder, and it was a good situation to try out the new bee vacuum that Joan, our good friend and partner-in-bees, recently got.

Bee swarm

We onlookers down below couldn’t see the large portion of the swarm in the roof’s gutter. George vac’ed them up first.

Bee swarm

Moving on to the bees overhanging the roof, we watched as some of the swarm flew about, but most were drawn into the gentle pull of the vacuum.

Bee swarm

It was much quicker than what George would have had to do otherwise – scrape the bees from the side of the roof down into a box.

Bee swarm Since the bees will have their new home in Joan’s hive, we went to get one of her hive boxes with some frames that her old bees had built on.

Bee swarm The bees will be attracted to the leftover honey and wax on the frames, and migrate onto them from the vacuum. With the box on the roof, the bees that didn’t get vac’ed will sense the pheromones and re-join their queen and swarm. It’s a whole-day affair, mostly waiting around to make sure that as many bees as possible are gathered up. Any stragglers will likely go back to their old hive.

Click here to read my post about the process Joan and George went through to catch a swarm in her garden last year, I think that slow and laborious process was the impetus behind her ordering the bee vacuum!

A Very Butterfly Day

George and I were jonesing for a monarch butterfly fix. This winter’s Big Storm uprooted the largest milkweed plant in our garden, and no monarchs have visited the smaller ones. Our butterfly-spotting treks to Albany Hill and Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, the over-wintering spots closest to us, were disappointing. We saw a few fluttering around Albany Hill, but nothing like past years’ large clusters. One paused on a branch at the top of the Hill long enough for me to photograph it.Monarch Butterfly at Albany Hill

And that’s why we both woke up yesterday morning with one thought: time to head for Ardenwood Historic Farm Park. Monarchs over-winter in Ardenwood’s eucalyptus grove from December to mid-February, and we’d heard through the butterfly grapevine (aka Facebook) that the numbers were good this year.

Ardenwood’s rangers are well-informed and eager to educate visitors about monarchs, from showing the butterfly’s life cycle to explaining the importance of growing milkweed and flowers, and not using pesticides. George quickly spotted a caterpillar munching on a milkweed leaf (Asclepias physocarpa) in their garden.

Monarch caterpillar

Then the ranger pointed out a chrysalis hidden under another leaf. An exciting first for us; we’ve seen so many monarch chrysalises in our butterfly “nursery”, but have never seen one in the wild!

Monarch chrysalisAnd finally! Hundreds of gorgeous orange monarchs fluttered above us in the bright blue sky.

Monarch butterflies

George and I, with the other awed visitors, lay on our backs to watch the dance.

Monarch butterflies

Two flew near a red-tailed hawk making lazy circles.

Monarch and hawk

As the sun slanted lower, the butterflies began to light on the eucalyptus branches.

Monarch  butterflies at Ardenwood

We reluctantly left the monarchs to speed through the rest of the Park before it closed (stay tuned for further adventures). Want to see more of my monarch butterfly blog posts? Click these links:

Monarch Butterfly Mating Dance

More Monarch Butterflies

A Monarch Butterfly Visits the Garden

Monarch Butterfly Emerges

Monarch Caterpillar to Chrysalis

First Monarch Caterpillar Emerges

Monarch Eggs in the Garden!

Monarch in the Garden

Butterflies & Barbie at the Albany Library


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.


Feral Cats’ Thanksgiving Feast

For more than a year George, along with volunteering at the local spay/neuter clinic, Fix Our Ferals, has been working with a group of people who feed several feral cat colonies in Richmond. The group also traps and spays the colonies, so eventually they will disappear. This year George’s assigned feeding day fell on Thanksgiving, so before we went off for our own feast, we brought food and water to one of his colonies. We were greeted by two of the friendliest cats, Martian and Baby. They’re so socialized that we guess they were probably abandoned by people who lost their houses. This is Baby, doing her “Hello George” rollover.

Feral catsGeorge gives her a good scritch.

Feral cats

Here comes more of the gang.

Feral catsThere’s plenty of food for all. Some is donated by the Animal Rescue Foundation and Pet Food Express, and it’s otherwise paid for by private donations and out of the volunteers’ own pockets. A lot of the care for sick feral cats is arranged through Community Concern for Cats (CC4C).

Feral catsThey haven’t been able to catch all of the cats, so one mama recently had kittens. This one was shy at first.

Feral cat

But soon was happily eating alongside his brother.

Feral cats

Bad weather in winter makes life harder for a feral cat. If you have time and energy to help out, contact your local organization. If you’re in the Richmond/El Cerrito area, you can volunteer at Fix Our Ferals, and you can also reach the group that’s feeding feral cat colonies by speaking to Kathy at Fix Our Feralsor leave a comment here and I’ll get back to you.

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

Happy Feral Cat Day!

It’s National Feral Cat DayThe theme this year is “TNR: From the Alley…to Main Street.” TNR stands for Trap-Neuter-Return, which, as the NFCD website states, is “a humane approach to managing and caring for feral cats— the only effective method of stabilizing feral cat colonies.”

Feral cat

With two rescue cats of our own, every day of the year is Feral Cat Day, but to celebrate, I’d like to celebrate by thanking everyone who helps feral cats, including trapping, spay/neutering, feeding, fostering, adopting, and more!

Martian and Brin-brin

For more than a year George has been volunteering at Fix Our Ferals, the local spay/neuter clinic in Richmond, California, where they just fixed their 10,000th cat! The vets, veterinary assistants, clinic manager, and volunteers at FOF are the most amazing people – they go way above and beyond to treat with great care and compassion every cat (and dog and rabbit) brought to the clinic.

Fix Our Ferals booth

And many more people work selflessly to feed feral cat colonies, and to trap them so they can be spayed and either returned to their colonies or fostered and placed in forever homes.

feeding feral cats

Our newest daughter Daisy was a feral kitten rescued from an abandoned truck by a Good Samaritan. She was bottle-fed by FOF’s clinic manager, who persisted until George finally admitted that he had fallen in love with her.

Daisy and George

Our son Lars was also a feral cat, dumped on the doorstep of Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation. He almost died, but ARF performed surgery on him, and he has been the light of our lives ever since. Our initial reluctance to get another cat was due to the fact that we were worried Lars wouldn’t accept another cat – but he and Daisy finally came to an understanding.

Daisy and Lars

Even if you don’t have a lot of time or extra funds, there are many others things you can do to help: donate towels, newspapers, and other things that Clinics need; spread the word about your local clinics or other groups; foster a cat until he or she can be adopted; and much more! So Happy National Feral Cat Day — and a million thank-yous to all who donate time, resources, and money to help these vulnerable animals.