Archive for the ‘Playing Cards’ category

Ace of Spades Across Playing Cards

November 24, 2016

I see so many Bicycle decks with gorgeous illustrations and themes for the Ace of Spades, but my collection is a bit quieter. I used to buy a few playing cards every Christmas when Mr. Somerville was still trading, but he closed his shop five years ago and I only get new playing cards occasionally.

The closest I come to a Bicycle deck is my ultra cheap Jumbo Playing Cards. They aren’t printed very well and the finish isn’t good but I bought them to use for hand drawing titles on from the system used in the Playing Card Oracles deck so I could have an non-illustrated pip deck with those titles. In that system, the Ace of Spades is Terra Incognita.


I bypassed the illustrated decks I own, and most of my historical decks have interesting Ace of Spades cards. Even the quiet ones they’ve managed to make interesting. My quietest one is the Civil War Illuminated deck which has shiny gold foil.



Lastly, I have three Patience decks or Solitaire decks as we call them in North America.


The Tudor Rose deck was published to commemorate the coronation of Elizabeth II and is still in print—lovely cards. I find it so interesting how different artists and designers handle the pips in playing cards. It’s never boring to see that flare of design.




Figaro at the Garage

November 6, 2016

Inching along, the spouse is having the bandage on his hand changed tomorrow, ten days after the operation for his finger contracture. I hurt myself cleaning and stoking the woodstove while trying to do everything else too, so because it’s mild outside between 11 and 13 degrees C, we are falling back on electric baseboard heaters for a while.

We managed to drive out to get banking and groceries done, as the spouse’s left thumb is not bandaged (I don’t drive), but we’ll be glad when it’s healed. I hope they managed to straighten out his finger. He avoided skin grafts at least, and has to wear a splint at night for six months, but it’s done and that’s the main thing.

Today we went for a walk in the neighbourhood avoiding most hills except one which was tense for me to navigate going downhill with my knees. However it was clear and mild and smelled of cedar and pine—lovely!

I’ve been watching too many British TV shows, I keep pronouncing garage as “gair-idge” the way they do in Britain. Rule Britannia.



For all you opera lovers out there, Simon Drew has a charming take on The Marriage of Figaro and Carmen, all in one card. In this case, you have to pronounce “garage” the British way, or else hordes of bewigged courtiers will descend upon your house and eat all the bananas and milk.

Yikes, that’s a scary thought, bloody Mozart and an entourage rummaging through the fruit bowl. Household dogs can only do so much to protect you, pronunciation is KEY people. Bizet knew.

Happy Sunday!

Preposterous Worms and Niggly Things

September 23, 2016



Remember this little ditty?:

“The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out,
In your stomach and out your mouth”

Ah the joys of ruminating on death. I have been up for three hours with cascading nerve pain and muscle spasms. My approach for the last three days has been to stop taking pills: no more rushing to alleviate every pain and ache with Tylenol or aspirin.

I lie instead and concentrate on my breath and sometimes magically the pain dies down. I have built up such hatred for my body that I thought I’d try another way, the way of letting it be and just feeling it. The strange thing is that despite outrageous amounts of nerve pain I generally feel kindly toward my body for a change. I feel my breath is a cold compress on inflammation, a caress of comfort where none was to be found.

It’s tough, it’s hard to sleep, but I’m thinking that this habit of gulping anti-inflammatories, apart from making my liver hurt, is much like reaching for junk food when you feel anxiety or anger or sadness. Maybe the better way is to acknowledge it, feel it, breathe with it?

I am also finding that I have more energy and that because of the pain, I’m more careful of what I eat, more caring in reaching for better nutrition. Awareness…it’s a strength of resolve I haven’t had for a while. Drop the mask, drop the masking meds, and then what happens? An interesting thing.


Reach for the Scanner of Joy

September 11, 2016



REACH is what I call this Ace, and today I am reaching and needing Crow and Raven with me in the sky. They happened to come to my house yesterday, a gift drifting in from the estate of my dead parents-in-law, who wanted us to have a housewarming gift. They are with us still, a happy blush in our minds, flying. Raven knows.


Heavy with embroidery, my hilt bejewelled, my crown a sea of diamonds, I realize that in my travels I have forgotten to update my card database, and need to enter six decks and scan samples, and fill myself with the joy of documentation and organization.

Happy Sunday!


In My Seasonal Camouflage

August 23, 2016



According to Deborah Leigh’s system of reading playing cards, the 10 of diamonds is about money, but a neutral card, neither good nor bad.

I took one look at this Ptarmigan photograph and thought “That’s me, hiding in the foliage.” Our exterior home renovation is taking much longer than planned, and when we took the concrete steps out we found a glitch, so I’ve gone from feeling fairly positive about repairs and such to feeling overwhelmed, worried, and hiding. As well, the spouse pushed me into hours and hours (when I only wanted to do two hours at a time so I wouldn’t hurt myself) of painting wood trim with a brush and it’s set off my carpal tunnel, tendinitis, and pain and fatigue. He could care less and is simply ignoring me.

So, I’m hiding in plain site, camouflaged in a chair reading several mysteries. I can’t hold a pen and my typing is limited to a few minutes at a time. I can’t do anything but rest. Instead of carefully balancing what I can do to avoid nerve damage and pain, I’m knocked out of living altogether. Blah.

Of course, I know nothing about ptarmigans. This is the Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus), and is a female in her summer plumage. They are the only birds to turn white in the winter to blend in with the snow, and brown in the spring and summer to blend with foliage. They are a subfamily of the grouse family.

Hide from the unpaid bills little bird, read the book Smoke by Dan Vyleta when you finish the current book.

Incidentally, I could never remember how to spell the word “camouflage” until studying a card one day a few years ago, I needed to spell it quite a bit in my write-up and it cemented itself in my spelling mind.

So there you go, cards at the fore of education and intellectual growth again!


Mulish Thoughts on Subtle Differences

July 18, 2016

I’ve been unable to use the computer much after practically doing the splits when I slipped on the kitchen floor while cleaning up, and then slamming my arm and shoulder into the counter while trying to hold myself up until the spouse came and grabbed one of my legs. How embarrassing, and the lump and bruises on my arm set up nerve pain.

So, I’ve been using my arm gently and catching up on last year’s sketches on my Manner and Material blog. Three more to go and I can get on with this year’s project and crack open my nice Stillman & Birn Zeta journal.

I was fortunate to have a friend send me a deck of playing cards called Discover Canadian Wildlife which has 52 different images. The irony being that he found the deck in the UK and mailed it over here!

I do love playing cards. As a sub-genre of my main deck collection, I have 64 playing card decks, many of them unusual. I like to learn about animals and this makes a great addition to all my animal decks, tarot or otherwise.

8 OF CLUBS – Mule Deer


When I looked at this I thought “Oh, it’s a white-tailed deer” which it is in general, except the tail has a black tip. Mule deer have slightly different antlers and huge mule-like ears, and are found in western North America rather than the east.

We get a lot of deer around here, which seem to be of the black-tailed variety, perhaps the Columbian Black-Tailed deer. Still, in my ignorance I really don’t know about anything except the white-tailed deer we saw in Ontario. This is the joy of card decks and spotting new animals when you move to a new region.

This reminds me that a quick glance can make you assume things that aren’t true. Always a danger.



The Sandveld Kid Practices Foundational Hand

April 25, 2015

Foraging through the Foundational Hand Forest, the Northern Black Korhaan (a.k.a. the White-quilled Bustard) kept singing “4 a.m., 4 a.m.” and wondering if the ringing in his ear would ever stop. He cancelled the order for his James Ricklef book and ordered two books on drawing and painting portraits. Now he’s strutting along feeling pretty chuffed with himself.

Northern Black Korhaan – (Afrotis afraoides)


Deborah Leigh says the 4 of Clubs means misfortune but what kind of misfortune is up to you to decide. Then later on she states it’s a major setback. It’s never just black and white.

This bird is found in the north part of South Africa, so it reminds me of a friend who has been enduring the riots down there for weeks. Mr. Korhaan eats seeds and insects, walking along pecking, catch-as-catch-can.

A reminder that foraging through life for what you need is not a bad thing, more like a daily condition, as is misfortune. I’m not sure if this is cynicism or merely pragmatism. I don’t expect misfortune but it peeks out and says “Gotcha!” and I have to deal with that.

Calligraphy practice hurts my arm, which feels a bit defeating, but a page a day might be manageable. Bustards don’t have a lot of patience when writing the letter “g” but they carry on, wearing their Tensor cuff and trying to protect their sore arms.

Bet you didn’t know that.

That’s why I’m here.