Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Corona Cards!

Corona Cards!  I thought of calling them Covid-19 cards.  Or Quarantine cards.  But settled on Corona.  It had a nicer ring to it.  Plus you could add a cute graphic of the beer bottle to the card as an option if you wanted.

It's time to send out some cards.

We are all isolated.  The only way we can be in contact with each other is by phone or mail.  We can't go to work.  Or out to eat, the movies, shopping.  About the only activities open to us right now are cleaning the house, watching TV,  and reading.

Obviously, nobody is going to clean the house. They may say they are but they are lying.

It's the perfect time to send greeting cards and unlike Christmas when you barely have time to fart, you have nothing but time now. You can check on your old friends and relatives. Some of these people will really love to hear from you.  Some may really be worried or interested in how you are weathering this storm. And you already know who these people are because you send or receive cards from them at Christmas.  Get out your Christmas card list. Then go through your address book and the church directory and find the people you know who will be particularly restless at having to be stuck at home.  Send them a card.

Now, Hallmark didn't think to market for this so that's what this blog is for today.  I'm going to show you.

Set your word processing to portrait orientation, two columns.  Print a cute graphic and message along the right side column, two of them, on top of each other.  Cut the page in half, fold and Voila! you have two cards that will fit into a notecard envelope.

OR you could dig up some old cards and cross out the message and write you own in.  It's OK if you do this.  We're having a pandemic here.  People are a lot more understanding right now.  They will just be happy to hear from you. They may even wonder if you are still alive and this will put their mind as ease.

Or you could just write them a letter.  The point is sending out mass mailings doesn't need to have a season.  People have gotten so busy that they don't even send Christmas cards at Christmas anymore.  Increasingly, I get cards weeks after Christmas.  Now people even call them New Years cards:

Now you will need postage.  You can get stamps through the mail!  Here's the link
Whatever you do, stay out of the stores.  Remember that the whole point of this is that nobody can leave their house.

If you don't have any of these craft materials or, let's face it, just don't want to mess with it--  THAT'S OK.  This is a stressful time and we're not going to add to your stress.  You can call or just forget the whole thing.  Go back to bed.

PS:  My address is 2615 County Road 4294   Pickton, TX  75471

And, if all the wordprocessing of the graphic throws you for a loop send me an email and I can email you the file for what I did.  All you would need to do is print it.


I got a new book but it was too big.  Too heavy to hold in my lap, too bulky to carry around, unweilding in my purse.  It was a very bossy book.  This is my solution and I've used it several times since and I like it so much I thought I would share it with you.

Warning: This post contains graphic descriptions of book abuse. I understand that people can be squeamish about their books. I have seen friends become more alarmed over what I’m about to say than television images of oil-soaked baby ducklings. And, if that doesn’t break your heart, nothing will.

I love books as much as you do.  But I also have a good grasp of who is in charge here.  I bought the book with my own money. It's mine, I can do what I want to with it. I have a good reason for what I am about to do. And, finally, if you look at it the right way, I will actually triple the value of the book. I also don't do this with just any book I own, only the really fat, heavy ones.

I started slicing my books up on a vacation when I was reading a paperback I had found in a airport. I was a mindless biography of a fairly forgettable movie star and  I was going to throw it away when I finished.  But the trip had been long and I was getting tired of holding the book.  So I tore out all the pages I had already read.  And commenced to just tear out the pages as I continued to read. That was when I lost my fear of books.

It was the last Harry Potter book that did it.  At 607 pages it weighed over 2 1/2 pounds.  That's a bulky and heavy book.  I got tired just holding it in my lap.  And I was about to leave for a youth retreat where I might end up carrying it around the dorm while I did hall duty after curfew.  I hit upon the idea of slicing the book into thirds.

This meant that not only could I lessen the weight and read only one part of the book at a time but I could then loan out the other 2/3 of the book to two other friends.  It was a total win-win idea. My conscience was clear since I had recently been to Half Priced Books and seen an entire bookcase with Harry Potter books selling for 25 cents. A used Harry Potter was basically useless, little more than trash.

Here's what I ended up with.

Sure enough, I was able to make two other people happy while I read my section.  We traded around.  When I got home I wrapped it up with a rubber band and put it on my shelf.

Next I tackled paperbacks.  They're a little harder since they aren't bound the same way.  The middle will need special handling.

The first one I sliced into thirds was Hamilton.

And today I'm breaking up Leonardo da Vinci:

You will also need a sharp razor knife and clear packing tape. And a large serrated kitchen knife.

Divide the book into thirds.  IMPORTANT:  Make sure each third starts a new chapter.  Sometimes a new chapter starts on the left side as the book is open.  You don't want that.  Start section two and three with a new chapter on the first page.

Lay the knife between the pages and close the book on it.  Slowly and gently work the knife against the spine of the book, slicing through the spine until you have sliced the book in two.  Repeat for the third section.

Now that you have each third in a smaller and easier-to-manage size you will need to create new covers for each section.  I have found that old phone book covers work best.  

Lay the book sections on top of a page of phone book cover and trace around it.  Pay attention to what you're tracing:  this will be the cover for your book section and you will have to live with it.  If you select a section that has an ad for a bailbonds company on it you might regret it.  This is going to be the face of your "new" book.  Consider your options.  Cut out the cover for your new book section.

My technique calls for a delicate and respectful touch. If you’re going to cut a book into thirds you’d better know what you’re doing. You can’t just go hacking away at it willy-nilly. If it’s a hardback you have to get the cover off. It’s a little bit like skinning a deer. Find the point where the back meets the spine and make an incision down the inside of the spine on either side. This will separate the cover from the guts. Next, divide the book into thirds but, again, you have to be careful how you do this. You’ll want to find chapter breaks where the new chapter starts on the right-hand side. Then you take a long serrated knife. Lay the blade flat and close the book over it. This will guide the knife so it doesn’t cut into anything besides the back. Voila! When I finish I keep it all together with a rubber band. In the case of Harry Potter three different people now are able to read the book at the same time, saving the world a total of around $60 by not buying three more books.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Spring Cleaning for the Labyrinth April 2018

All is ready for the summer!

The lab is mowed, freshly painted and fertilized.  It is supposed to rain this afternoon and I expect a great lawn of grass this year.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Grass Labyrinth

  Planning the Lab

I'm partial to the classic 11-circuit Chartres labyrinth pattern.  I have made a smaller one once and can someday include the plans for that one.  For now, I'll show you how to make the 11 circuit labyrinth.

OK--Here is a photo of the smaller one.  It was custom made to fit a 24 foot room (I think the canvas is actually 20 feet square).  Because there are fewer circuits the path is a bit larger and easier for an adult to walk freely.  I intended to walk this one indoors in the fellowship hall of this building but you can see how pretty it was outside that day:

The first thing you'll do when planning a labyrinth is figure out how big you want it and there are two ways to approach the issue: (1) are you limited by the size of the lab?  (Does it have to fit in a rooms of a certain size or a field of a certain size?) or (2) do you have a specific path size in mind?

Your magic number is 26.  I ended up with this number because you have the circuits plus the center and the center is twice the size of the circuits so your measurements will be 11 circuits plus 2 and that's just the radius.  Double that for the diameter.  11+2=13  and 13X2=26

If you have all the room in the world,  maybe you have a pasture of fairly unlimited size and you want a good size path--say, a 30" path-- then you will take 30" and multiply that by 26, giving you 780 inches or 65 feet.  You will want a space that is at least 65 feet across for this labyrinth.

But if you have a room that is only 30 feet square and you wonder if you can fit a lab in it you will take 30 and transfer that into inches:  12X30=  384 then divide it by 26 giving you 14.77 inches for a path.  I would round down generously to give myself space to paint and expect a 14 inch path in that room.

Twelve inches is about the smallest you could comfortable go for a labyrinth path and even then you might need to walk with only one foot in the path at times.  Kids could walk this path easily but it wouldn't be as comfortable for adults.  It would be much better to go with a lab that had fewer circuits and a wider path.


The good news for making a grass labyrinth is that it doesn't take a whole lot of equipment to make initially.  It does, however, take a lot of paint to maintain once you have it painted--especially in the growing season.   To lay out the lab only takes a few feet of rope, a painting stick, three tent stakes, a yardstick and a paint marking stick.......and a case of paint.  To maintain the lab takes a case of paint about every other time you mow.

You can get around paying for paint by not mowing the pattern and only mowing the path with a push mower but that's another category for another day.  It's much easier to mow the lab with a riding mower and spend the money on a case of six cans of marking paint.

Start by printing off a copy of this diagram:

Now, let's go out to the field and start laying it out.  There about three parts to the layout.  The circles.  The turn-arounds on three of the quadrants and then the entrance.  

Watch the video to get a feel for how I lay out the lab.

The turn-arounds are a little trickier:

I'm going to show you three diagrams.  The lab is broken down into four quadrants.  I call them North, East, West and Entrance no matter what direction your lab is in.  I never was good at directions and they mean nothing to me anyway.  I hope it doesn't matter to you.  They are just arbitrary names.  The North, East and West quadrants are the easiest.  I'll save the Entrance for last since it's the hardest.

Let's start with the North quadrant and mark it off:

Attach a rope to the center stake and run it straight to the edge of the outside of the lab opposite your entrance.  Take your measuring stick that's a path wide and mark a path width one side of the center stake and place a tent stake, running a rope out to the edge of the lab.  Place another tent stake on the other side of the center stake a path width and run the third rope.  Make sure all three ropes are parallel with a path width space between them.  .  Check the diagram.

Now refer to your numbered diagram to see which numbered lines make the turns.  For the North quadrant this would be lines 1 and 3 wrap around 2.  4 and 6 wrap around 5....7 and 9 wrap around 8 and 10 and 12 wrap around 11.  Take the paint stick and paint the ground.

Here are the diagrams for the other two quadrants:

East Quadrant


And this is when you have to refer to the diagram a LOT.

And then Shift over to painting the entrance.  To me, this is the hardest part of the whole process.  And there is a little trick.  You have to move the stake over ONE-HALF a path width instead of a whole path.

Look at the diagram for a minute:

On my lab I have a permanent center stake and I never touch it.  So I bring in an extra stake and place it one-half the path width to the left of the center stake and push the stake into the ground.  Then attach the rope and run the rope to the outside of the lab.  THEN I mark a full path width to the right of that rope and put a tent stake and a rope and run it parallel.  Then a third rope to the right of that one.  I end up with three ropes and two paths.  The center of the left-most path goes to the center stake.  You can see how this ends up being the path that leads you into the labyrinth at the culmination of your walk.

Then mark the left side of the entrance

I have to confess that this little "half-path" trick took me a long time to figure out and I am still correcting up some of my mis-calculations made over time. (You can see my confusion in my earlier diagram of the line markings on the shows the center stake in the wrong position. A clear sign of how wrong I was back when I made that diagram.  I am very embarrassed.)

The nice thing about grass and paint is that neither one is permanent.  You can always fix mistakes.  You might even get a can of brown paint to paint over big errors.  Brown or green paint.

And you can always fix mistakes:

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Maintaining a Grass Labyrinth

Let's say you have your grass labyrinth and you love it.  You now enter the maintenance phase.  There are two things you will need to do.  And you will need to do it often.  Maybe more often than you want to.  But it pays off in a gorgeous lab.

1.  You should mow it often and mow it correctly.  Remember our North, South, East and West approach?  Approach your lab from one end--we'll say the south end.  Mow straight through to the opposite side.  Turn around and mow the opposite way,  mowing one width to the west, headed south.  At the south end, turn and head back north going one mower's width to the east. 

Each time you mow across the lab you will not only cut the blades of grass but you will blow the cut grass away from the center.  Yes, you will be mowing the same dead blades of cut grass.  Yes, it may pile up and you'll have to mow over that pile.  But look back at the inside of the lab: how clean it is.  Nothing but live blades of grass.  Like a pristine carpet.  You can also see the lines marked on the path much more clearly.  It's like you vacuumed the grass.  And, in a way, you did.

2.  You should keep the path clearly marked.   Usually, it's best to mow first and mark after you've mowed.  You will need to refresh the lines about every other time you mow.  If you keep the lines marked clearly you will only need about six cans of paint to refresh it.

Yes, six cans is a lot.  And it will cost about $25 for six cans.  You can get a case of six or 12 and it's cheaper. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chalk Labyrinth

Making a labyrinth on concrete with chalk is easier than spray painting one in a field of grass.  For one thing, it's easier to fix mistakes.  And being able to tape to the surface of the lab makes marking the lines a lot easier.  The good/bad thing is that rain washes a chalk lab away. But with a forgiving landlord you can paint a permanent one using the chalk version.

Here is what you will need:

  • a full roll of painter's tape
  • a bold sharpie
  • a length of rope (for the exact length see below)
  • a piece of corrugated cardboard 1 foot by 2 feet
  • tape measure
  • 3-4 pieces of sidewalk chalk.  (the rougher the concrete, the more chalk you will use)
  • either a spray bottle of water and a dry rag or a very wet rag to erase mistakes

To figure out how much rope you will need you can approach it two ways:

First, understand that you will be drawing 12 lines.  The first line is 2 path-widths because it forms the inner circle.  So think in terms of 13 (12+1extra for the inner circle)

If you have limited space and need to adapt your lab to that exact space, take the shortest length and divide by 26.  For example, if you have a space that's 26 by 30, take the shortest length (26) and divide by 26 and this will give you the width of the path.  Your paths, in this case, will be one foot wide. You will need a rope that is at least 12X1foot plus a second foot for the first line (basically 13 times the path width.)  You will need 13 feet of rope

Or, if you have all the room in the world and are not limited by space, decide how wide you want your paths to be.  If you want two-foot wide paths you would multiply (13 times a 2-ft path) 26  by 2 and know that your lab will cover 52 feet. Your rope will be 2 feet wide times 13. That equals 26 feet of rope.

To make a jig for the rope take the cardboard and make a hole in the center of one half.  The hole is for the rope to go through.  Tie a knot at the end and thread the rope through the hole until the knot stops it.  Fold the cardboard in half and tape it shut.

Once you know the width of the paths, mark the rope with the tape.  The first mark will be TWICE the width of your paths.  All the others will be one path width.

Here's a snap of the cardboard thingy-

Decide where you want the center to be.  With painters tape mark a beginning.  It's best if you have someone to help hold the tape and make sure it's straight.

figure 1
Piece of cake, right?

Now lay tape parallel to the cross--one path-width on either side.
figure 2
Easy enough.

In this example, I had a limited amount of space and it measured 25 by 40 feet.  I made the paths one foot wide.  The first mark is two feet from the where the rope emerges from the cardboard.  I put some tape at TWO feet and marked the tag "1".  The next tag was ONE foot after that one and I marked the tag "2"....and so on until the 12th tag.

Here's a picture of what the rope should look like:

Now tape the rope thingy to the center of the taped lines on concrete or floor. Then make some marks on the lines

figure 3

OK!  Are you with me?

Now it is getting a bit harder.  Using the following diagram mark each circuit according to the diagram.  This will be the most crucial step.  Look at the diagram carefully.  Talk out loud to yourself.  Get a friend to check behind you. Compare the numbers on the diagram with the numbers on the tape.  You could print this out or enlarge it so you can see it better.  This is the key step.  Careful attention to this step can avoid messing it all up. 

Now take your rope and make some more hash marks between the North, South, East and West lines.
figure 4

figure 5

 Mark the curves of what I call a "wrap-around" where lines 5 and 7 will curve around line 6

Then fill in the voids that the wrap-arounds create.  With chalk, you can just make hash marks instead of solid color.  The goal here is to smooth the lines out and solidify the path.

Now you pull the tape off. Voila!  You have a labyrinth!

Stand at the entrance for a quiet time and pray over your creation.  Ask God to set this space aside as holy ground and bless the ones who will walk here.

Go home and stand by your mailbox waiting for the Noble prize for labyrinths to arrive in the next post.

This can also be the basis for a permanent one by going over the lines with paint.  To take it to an even higher level, paint it in Glow in the Dark paint.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Labyrinth Redux

This is your word for the day: "redux."  I thought I knew what it meant but wasn't sure so I looked it up.  And it means revisited or revived.  That's a good word for what I've done.

I painted a labyrinth years ago.  In fact, I was so proud of myself that I did just what I'm about to do now:  I published it on the internet via this blog.  When I got frustrated with the current one I thought to myself, "I'm sure I'm not the only one having trouble with this.  I'll check the internet and find instructions from someone else who has so much wisdom that there are wisdom "left-overs" I can glean.  So I went to the internet and the first How To that came up was my own posting here on this blog telling others how to do this.

For the last three weeks I've measured and sketched and calculated.  I bought a case of marking paint. And I did it.  I have a new and much easier method for making your own personal labyrinth.  Try this method:

Find about 50 square feet of space.  Mow the grass in such a way that you're blowing grass towards the outside of the circle.

In the center of this pristine plat of grass drive a strong stake into the ground.

You can do this next step inside where it is cool and comfortable:   Get four lengths of good rope that measure about 25-30 feet in length.  Tie a knot at one end that will let you slip the knot over the center stake.  From this point at the stake measure 48 inches and draw a line on the rope with a bold black marker..  At the line wrap some duct tape to make a little "flag" a couple of inches square.  Leave that flag unmarked.  Measure out 24 inches (or whatever you want your path to be) and make a flag.  Mark this flag with a "!" on both sides of the flag.  Then measure another 24 inches and tape flags for "2" through "12". Make three more ropes just like this one.

You'll need a fifth rope the same length but you don't have to mark it.

Line the four ropes at the center stake going straight out.  Call the ropes North, South, East and West.  The entrance to your lab will always be South no matter what the real direction is.

Mark the North quadrant first.  Standing at the center stake and looking to the outside of the lab lay two of the marked ropes 24" to the left and right of the center rope.I call these lines Larry and Ralph You can stake the rope with a tent stake to keep it into position. 

Take the fourth rope that you're not using to mark lines and use it like you do a compass to mark circles like you did in geometry class.  Except and this is VERY IMPORTANT don't hold the rope and make sweeping lines because you can stretch the rope doing this and everything will be all gummed up.  Instead lightly place the rope and make a little hash mark with just a spritz of paint.  When you get to the turns and have a good feel for line which going around line whatever to meet another line to make your turns you can free hand these lines. Like the green lines below. Now you will start to see a pattern emerge.

Do all three:  North West and East alike.

Don't worry about filling in the lines just yet.  Just get a big picture of the turns   Later you can use the flags on rope to fill in the path markers.  Your back probably hurts by now, anyway and you still have the hardest part ahead.

Mark the Entrance at the 'south' position.

Take an unmarked rope and lay it from the center stake straight down past the entrance to the lab. This rope doesn't have a name. It's only purpose is to help position the other.  Lay ropes on either side of the unmarked rope BUT instead of your normal 24' distance lay these ropes half of the path size (in this case, 12 inches)  Call these lines Larry and Carlos.  Carlos will end up as the center of the south entrance ropes. Mark two feet on either side and call them Lucy and Ralph. Finally one more rope 24" to the west of the ropes and call it Rita.

If you are paying attention you will notice that you're a rope short.  You can mark Carlos first because it is an unbroken line.  Once you have Carlos marked you can use that rope for Rita.

Mark the path lines and turns using this diagram.  And that should finish the hardest part.

All you have to do now is finish the path by fluffing a marked rope and making hash marks then filling in the hash marks.

Pack it all up in a box for the next time.