Note to readers:  Due to clearly slacker behaviours on my part, this letter was written over several weeks, so please excuse the two part structure.  Okay?  Okay.

Part 1:

Do you believe it?  It is November.  Geeez.  It seems like this year has gone faster than all the previous ones, but I think that has something to do with perceptions as it appears that 2010 has the same number of days as previous years, and the number of hours per day hasn’t shifted either.  I suppose the perception of a massive acceleration of time has some correlation to the number of years I have accumulated.  Could be, but the way my mind works; that is just a good reason to get cracking and not sit idly by.  And with that in mind, I have been working diligently on a new project.

When I say a ‘new’ project, this one is actually an annual project that typically begins in late summer and takes until about now to finish.  This year, I think I was so busy with other projects that I lost the plot for a bit, but the past couple of weeks I have been working on this year’s holiday card.  I would like to be able to say that I have the design all set, but I am still playing with several different looks for the card this year.  Now some of you may be thinking, ‘oooh, not like James to still be working on designs when it is already November.’  Well spotted, but I at least have narrowed down my choices for what I want to do.  The good news is that by the end of this week, I should have it all sorted and have my little production line set up. 

I have also been working on my own Christmas present.  You know, this is when you buy yourself a present.  The good part of doing this is that you don’t need to worry about receiving a beige jumper from your children (in retribution for the ones I bought them years ago) or even worse, a book or CD that you just positively hate.  So screw it…you get yourself what you want.  My present for myself this year is going to be a little trip.  Nothing too over the top, but just an escape from the winter weather of the island for a bit.  Winter is, after all, cold and grey and wet, and at the risk of sounding like a real weather-wimp, when you live where I live, even 12 or 15c does feel too cold.  So my plan is to go away for a little bit. 

Picking a place to go became a bigger challenge that I had hoped.  I had thought about doing what I always recommend that clients do when they are faced with big decisions:  make a matrix and use it to determine which of the potential locations does the best job of meeting my holiday requirements.  Of course, in my case, the principle requirement is that the location would have better weather than Mallorca will have in the middle of winter. That means going to a different hemisphere, and as there are only two, and Mallorca is in the northern hemisphere, I needed to go south.  It didn’t take too long to figure out that my best options would be Australia, South Africa, or the Caribbean.  Yes, I know that the Caribbean is in the northern hemisphere, but work with me on this, okay?  My other criteria fell into two main categories.  Friends, Cost and Distance (with less being good for both criteria).  South Africa and Australia both did well in the friends criteria.  The Caribbean and South Africa did about the same in the distance criteria.  And Australia (and staying home) did the best on the cost criteria.  I will let you know when I decide for sure, as right now, I seem to have it all sorted in my mind and then waffle on the decision within minutes.  Maybe I need a bigger matrix. 

Back to something I wrote about earlier in this letter.   It is now three days later, and I have begun the production line of cards.  This is another one of those ‘geeeeez…..’ moments.  Every year, I discover something new about making cards, and this year, the big discovery (and not in a good way) has been that the very trendy paper I chose doesn’t seem to like my printing ink.  That may not be a fair statement, as a couple of hours from now, all might be well with the world again, but right now, I am not exactly chuffed with my choice.  Yes, the paper is quite nice, with a mild linear texture.  Yes, the colour (a variation of cream) is very nice.  The problem surfaced when I screened on the first colour.  Within seconds (literally about 15 seconds) the paper decided that it should begin to roll itself up.  This isn’t supposed to be like this.  In all the previous cards and even this year’s test prints, I put the ink on and the paper stays dead flat.  But this time, I put on the first colour and the paper begins to act like a roller-coaster at Alton Towers.  And if that didn’t generate enough excitement here in serigraph-central, after about two minutes, the paper goes flat AND THEN BEGINS TO ROLL THE OTHER WAY.  Buggers.  But using my wealth of post graduate education (and some weights), I seem to have that sorted out.  I can’t wait to see what happens when I begin to apply colour number two.

Part 2:

Okay, so I managed to survive through the peaks and valleys of the card extravaganza this year.  Remind me to not trust paper selection to anyone else in the future.  But after several frustrating days of holding curling paper down, I did move on to several limited edition prints (on some seriously good dead-flat 200g/m2 paper). 

I do have a couple bits of exciting news.  First, on a visit to my silk screen supplier I stopped at a new garden centre and picked up several packages of bulbs from Holland.  I used to bring bulbs back from business trips to Amsterdam whilst living on Angelina and after that, when living at La Antigua.  So now I have high hopes that in several months I will see the results of my gardening exploits on the main terrace of Sol y Mar.

Another bit of very welcome news is that the big holiday plans are finally sorted, and the winning destination wasn’t even one of the three places I had first thought of.  I had toyed with the idea of sort of modifying the Caribbean option to include Cuba, especially after going to a concert in Palma with the Buena Vista Social Club, but instead have decided to go to another place that was featured in The Second Book of Marvels I wrote about when I wrote about my bucket list in chapter number 70.  I think I will wait to tell you more about this until the trip (mid-January), but I think I need to find a pith helmet and lots of khaki for the trip. 

One last thing.  It is early December, and that means that the holidays are fast approaching.  When this happens each year, my iTunes selections seem to evolve a bit.  Other than the completely understandable amount of time listening to music by Ibrahim Ferrer, Compay Segundo, and Omara Portuondo (present and past members of the Buena Vista Social Club), I also have been listening to Christmas music. The whole Christmas music thing is pretty eclectic in my iTunes, with songs by everyone from Darlene Love (Phil Spector’s Christmas album) to Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.  Which brings me to this.  I am not sure if all of you know what a flash mob is but for the uneducated, a flash mob, according to Wikipedia is “a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, then disperse.”  Most of the examples of flash mobs I have seen have been things like a throng at a French sporting goods store dancing to Beat It, or several hundred people in Belgium dancing in a train station to Julie Andrews from the Sound of Music.  And as this is the holiday season, and Christmas is almost upon us, I thought I would share this with you. Click on the entire link below and smile, as I know my Aunt Peg would have done.





first of the winter storms pounding in front of 'Sol y Mar


sunrise two days later


setting up the big production line



happy to have the big trip sorted



paper curling uncontrollably


only a few months until these puppies say hello


a rainbow seen one day on the way to Amélie

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, James B. Rieley