Archive for the ‘Christmas Cards’ Category

“What’s Gnu?” …. We Moved!!!

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

What'sGnu(cropped)030 copy

In the tradition of unconventional Klein Family Christmas cards this year’s offering may seem a bit more unusual than times past. The “Schrodinger’s Cat” card of 2016 and the pen & ink “Mouse Walking Across a Christmas Letter” of 1990 come to mind, and as with those previous incardnations this one was born out of necessity – quickly done due to a variety of stressful events (physical and emotional) that made working on a detailed time-sensitive original illustration mentally and physically challenging (in the case of the Mouse card, for example, Jesse was born in August 1989, so as a newbie Mom with a 1 year old baby, Creative Juices were in short supply in 1990). 

2019’s annual Christmas greeting falls into both the Physical and Mental Exhaustion categories in terms of time (or lack-there-of) to come up with an original illustration, but the use of this particular card not only still grants us the opportunity to tell Friends and Family we are thinking of Them/You during the holidays, but also serves a very practical means of sharing New (or Gnu) information.  Specifically, after 22 years in St. Augustine, Bob and i (and Jesse’s stuff that was still in the house) have moved. To Orlando! (because where else can one hear fireworks every night and use a volcano as a directional landmark).

While this might seem like an Out-of-the-Blue, impetuous decision, it was really in the back of our minds for awhile. It started when Bob began flying all over the world and i thought how nice it would be NOT to have a yard or house to worry about, and instead have a place we could just button up and leave for trips (obviously the animals would still need to be considered, but we’d figure that part out). Then the back-to-back hurricane assaults of Matthew and Irma kicked things into higher, more serious consideration, gear.

We absolutely adore St. Augustine. Our neighborhood is The Best. And our neighbors (and my Technical Support folks) are the people of Myth and Legend. Caring. Generous. They are our Family of the Heart (and have automatic Drop-In/Stay-Over privileges whenever they are in, or passing thru, Orlando).  But Bob and i were also just ready for a change. While i loved saying we lived on an island, truth be told we really hadn’t been to the beach in ages (even when Jess came home for a visit, we TALKED about going but often never quite made it there). Bob is off flying and i’m holed up in the Art Room drawing. Heck, we didn’t even got downtown much. It was simply time for a New Adventure.

So in August i floated the idea of selling the house, and after securing the approval of Jesse and the neighbors, Bob and i put the house on the market. Just as Hurricane Dorian made his protracted visit (REALLY!). Once Dorian left the area, the For Sale sign went up, and then much sooner than we expected, or i was ready for, we got an offer. And i immediately went into frantic Hunting For a New Place to Live/Packing/Worrying the Sale Wouldn’t Go Thru/Physically Moving/Panic Mode. A state that lasted from September until well past Closing (Nov 18).

The Move behind us (tho still a TON of boxes, mostly books, still to unpack) my thoughts turned to a Move Announcement, AND the family Christmas card. That’s when it dawned on me – why not do both!

And if you remember this illustration from the past – Yes, i’ll admit. I’m recycling.  I already had this “What’s Gnu?” card (originally done to highlight Invented Images/Laurie Klein Art events) but never used it, so i decided to give it a new life and dual purpose as the 2019 Klein Family Adventure ~ Change of Address/Christmas card.  Done in the style of a  J C Leyendecker Arrow Shirt ad i always thought the Gnu looked suitably festive in his red robe, and now i just imagine he is reading his paper Christmas morning.  But more importantly, i like that not only can we still share our annual holiday greeting with you, but we can also include you in this brand GNU Adventure and our brand GNU address as well. 

To Christmas, when anything is possible & dear Friends help make it happen.

Oh, and of course…  Happy Gnu Year!!!                                                                        LAK2019 

“Pango Noel” or “A Pangolin Perhaps?”

Saturday, December 22nd, 2018


Pango Noel (2018)

The Klein Family Christmas card, and the subsequent Behind the Art Back Story that always accompanies the illustration, has an actual “story” behind the story of the card. Or, to be more accurate, an original children’s picture book story behind this year’s card.  A story that actually began January 29, 2016, when i was invited to do an  interview on a local morning TV show and i met a guest that, literally, changed my life.  A Pangolin.  

Instantly i became obsessed with “the most endangered animal no one has ever heard of” and wanted to do something to bring it to broader attention.  And i almost had the opportunity in June of 2016 when i received a manuscript that had, as its main character a pig. The nature of the animal had little to do with the actual story so i wrote a proposal suggesting we change the Pig to a Pangolin. The story remained the same, i just thought a Pangolin would give it an added dimension. And i wanted to draw one!

Creative decisions went on hold while the publisher waited for the author to sign the contract, but the schedule remained the same and i got nervous that i’d suddenly 

get the Go Ahead with no time to do the work. And since things were a little slow (and i’m a bit OCD) i went ahead and did all the rough sketches for the story using my proposed Pangolin character. Then, just to be safe, i did the entire book again using the Pig. Unfortunately, the author made so many contract demands that by December the publisher decided to just cancel the project. But when one book closes another opens.  

January 2017 the brilliant and talented Lori Schildwachter (who had long become a PangoPal) and i decided to collaborate on our own Pangolin themed children’s book. Inspired by a description that suggested a Pangolin was “a cross between a dragon, an artichoke, a pine cone, a tiny dinosaur and an armadillo” A Pangolin Perhaps? was born. So sandwiched between other art & illustration projects (and a hurricane) i began doing the pencil roughs and by the end of the year our book was ready to leave the nest. 

Our first publisher submissions went out in January of 2018 but even while our little book was making its rounds Lori and i were revising the story, and the illustrations, for submission to the “2018 Key Colours International Award for Best Picture Book Concept” contest held in Belgium in July.  I had to redesign the pictures to fit the competition format but actually wound up liking them better and was excited to ship the original pencil sketches off to Europe at the end of June.

August 29 we heard that out of 243 submissions, a jury of professionals had selected 44 books to be exhibited at the Het Stadsmus Museum in Hasselt, Belgium.  Our little Pangolin was one of the 44 books chosen.  We did not win the Grand Prize but as far as we’re concerned – it truly was an amazing Honor just to be considered. Today our book continues to knock on publishing doors while Lori and i start work on our next Pangolin Project.  3 years, 6 notebooks and TONS of sketches, with more to come, a Pangolin has become a part of my life and i could think of no better way to share the obsession. Besides, nothing says Christmas like an animal that looks like a pine cone, can hang from a tree like an ornament, and curls up like a wreath!                   LAK  2018   

Pangolin Portrait (2018)

Freight Dog

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

Freight Dog (Xmas 2017)


So, it’s the annual Klein Family Christmas card. I have to admit, after some 40-odd years, coming up with an idea has not always been easy. On more than one occasion i have looked longly at the the Christmas card table on display at Barnes & Noble and thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to just buy some cards this year!” Another alternative idea i have entertained during my occasional Artist Block moments is to do a “Polar Bear In a Blizzard” card (ie: all white, with a black dot in the middle) but, inevitably, the Creative Muse kicks in (not to mention encouraging emails and Facebook messages from friends saying they “can’t wait to see this year’s card”) and personal artistic Pride takes over. Ultimately i wind up getting an idea.

Sometimes the theme is an iconic Christmas inspiration like variations of Kris Kringle, or interpretations of classic carols or Charles Dickens’ iconic story. Other times the Christmas illustration is influenced by the year’s current, or on-going, obsessions (sharks, Star Wars, Doctor Who). There’s been a few higher concept/aka:weird ideas (the History of Christmas, quantum physics). And then there are the Family-driven images that feature one of us, or chronicle events of the year (school, the furry kids, flying). This card falls into that latter Family Chronicle category. But it took the entire year to get here, and i only decided that this was indeed the direction to take just before Thanksgiving (hey, these things have to take time to gel).

Of course after all that preamble, i feel a little guilty that there isn’t more of a monumental explanatory “Behind the Inspiration” back-story to share. Basically, after a couple-year hiatus from slipping the surly airline bonds, Bob found a new/old flying interest. I say “new” because it’s a new job, but it’s “old” in that BK has returned to his original flying roots (or should that be wings) and gone back to where he started – hauling freight. Way-back-then it was a little Piper Aerostar criss-crossing the US; now it’s the giant MD-11 (Bob affectionally calls it The Beast) criss-crossing the oceans and continents – tooling around Africa, Europe and Asia (tho this month he was all over North America). 37 years since his cargo days BK is once again a “Freight Dog”.

So, naturally, that meant an actual canine needed to serve as pilot. The dilemma was – what kind of canine? I mean, a Corgi was the obvious choice personally, but from an artistic standpoint didn’t seem like the scruffy, junk yard, mutt one would expect with the title. Of course we here at Klein Family Headquarters like to defy expectation and there was simply no other pup who could fill the PIC seat except Tali! Added bonus – this is also something of a birthday card because she turned 10 years old this month (and she IS a Working Breed) so this card celebrates both Old Dogs and New Beginnings.
Besides, who the heck do you think helps Santa get all those packages delivered on time in one night!?!

After landing check list –
Parking check list –
Well, we pulled it off again, Captain.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.                                                                                           LAK 2017

Schrodinger’s Card

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

In Which the Christmas Greeting Is Simultaneously Merry, & Not, Until Observed By the Recipient   OR  (to put another way)

The Cat Was Dead, and Not, To Begin With…..


And Yes. This is what Bob calls one of my “weird” cards (i prefer “high concept”).

I am a Dog Person. There is no doubt whatever about that. I am also somewhat obsessed by Time and Space and Physics – when the Universe is faced with “choices” it decides between them at random, in accordance with the laws of probability (quantum theory) and that the choice is not made until somebody looks to see what is going on. The mention of this choice, coupled with the point I started with, must be distinctly understood, or no sense can come of the background story I am going to relate. (NOTE: preamble paraphrase inspired by Charles Dickens).

Again, i love dogs. I understand dogs. Over the course of umpteen years i have had the delightful pleasure of sharing different periods of my life with 4 corgis and a wonderful mixed-breed stray, but i have also included the occasional rabbit, hermit crab, fish and hamster to the menagerie (we even took care of a baby bird for a hot second until his mom came and reclaimed him). However, i have never ever wanted, considered or entertained the thought of having a cat. As i often explained to Jess when she was growing up and expressed interest in a kitten, we had the pets I didn’t mind taking care of, so cats simply never made the cut or factored into our lives.

Until 4 years ago that is, when Jess, now an adult with a job and apartment, decided to adopt an airport stray and then, 6 months later, promptly moved to Hawaii and dumped the beast in my lap (because Hawaii has strict rules about non-indigenous carnivores devouring their endangered Nene Geese. And no one else would take him). Even when she moved back to the main land she never quite got around to collecting him, so three years later he’s still here.

His name is Piper, by the way, but he has also been called: Cat, Booger, Crazy and Monster (not to mention other names inappropriate for a Christmas card story). I should note i knew nothing about cats before i inherited him and 3 years later i am still pretty much in the dark about what makes them tick. Or why people actually like them (particularly given the apparent truth of all the negative Cat Memes on Facebook). They all basically seem to like scratching people (Bob almost had to go to the ER), staring blankly, curling up in boxes, and – particularly annoying for me – inconveniently taking full-body naps on original artwork.
Needless to say, since living with Piper my favorite cat jokes involve Schrodinger in some way, which brings us to the Christmas card back story.

Basically – i simply couldn’t think of anything that excited me enough to draw (i blame 2016 as a whole for my ambivalence). And then Piper came to mind and i realized he had not yet been on a family Christmas card so i figured this was really the perfect year to feature him (he did almost kill Bob after all). I immediately pictured him sprawled on top of Christmas wrapping because he always lays on my illustrations when he slips past the barricade to my art room (so much so that i once put a piece of paper on the living room floor and wrote “Original Art: Do Not Lay On This” and the minute he saw it he curled up on it and went to sleep).

Of course then Schrodinger’s Cat came to mind (bringing the Quantum Physics Lesson above into the mix). Specifically: the thought experiment dreamed up by Erwin Schrodinger involving a CAT, locked in a box with radioactive material, giving it a 50-50 chance of survival. The cat is conceivably both Alive and Dead, the answer unknown, until the observer opens the box (and yes, this is a simplistic, Physics For Dummies interpretation, the true explanation is massively more complex – which is why we have Google).

For me, NOT being a Cat Person, it was just an easy abstract hop, philosophic skip and theoretic jump to this year’s Merry/Not Merry “Schrodinger’s Cat Card”. So with apologizes to Schrodinger (for garbling his theory and for the missing umlaut over the O) and Cat Lovers everywhere. Whatever your reality, may you find your Christmas Merry and your cat very much alive. Or, as Piper’s holiday greeting would be (upon opening the card, and i suspect what all cats think when confronted by human expectation),


LAK 2016

Star Whale

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

To be honest – i really didn’t know what to draw this year.  2015 was kind of odd in terms of illustration inspiration. Many things happened… just nothing i could really wrap my mind creatively around. That’s when i decided to just keep it simple and celebrate some very special people. Specifically those wonderful, talented, brilliant, caring, generous, dedicated, professionals i have the pleasure to call Friends, and the honor and privilege to call Colleagues. My SeaWorld Family.  My SeaWorld Home.

My SeaWorld ‘Ohana.

It is a place that has been a thread running through my life since i was in high school (i STILL have the pearl i got at the original Pearl Diving pavilion). It was the first theme park we took Jesse to when she was 4 (where she preferred the dolphin stroller to the shows) and in 1995 she went to her first Summer Camp there.  Interestingly enough 1995 was the same year Bob and i decided to upheave our lives and started the process of moving to Florida (kind of a fitting, tho unintentional, mirror of life changes that occurred this past year). In 1997 i showed my portfolio to the Education Dept. and was given the opportunity to paint an amazing mural (the first one i had ever attempted). And  in 1998 i was invited to join this beautiful, magical, inspiring world.

A killer whale was the obvious image choice for this card and i reached back to the 1995 Jesse Camp/Christmas card for inspiration.  Celebrating Jesse’s camp experience, it was the first time i featured a killer whale, and ironically i only just now realized, as i type, that it was exactly 20 years ago when i drew that first whale, never imagining all the ones to follow. Yet another instance of surprising associations finding their way into my illustrations. I start drawing and next thing you know, i’ve discovered all these unexpected links and connections. All these Threads.

Children of the Sea & Sky 1995

For example, i still felt i needed another element to bring this whale idea to Christmas life.  And then i remembered the beautiful song, “Believe”, written for the 2008 killer whale show of the same name. A song, and show, that Jess and i love, and still makes us cry (we have the DVD).


Reach for your dreams,

Always be true and

You’ll be amazed

What they can do.


Just follow your heart,

Let it inspire.

Hope lifts you up;

Dreams take you higher.


Just open your heart,

Shine like the Sun now,

Reach out your hands,

Worlds become one now.


Think what a world this world would be


Follow your heart;

Let it inspire;

Hope lifts you up,

Dreams take you higher.

Think what a world this world would be… when you BELIEVE!


So to ALL our Friends & Family ~ Believe ~ my favorite word to share at Christmas.     LAK 2015


Citrus ~ Flight 1

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Seventeen years ago (February 1997 to be precise) a corporate pilot and a freelance artist sold their stuff (Bob called it “throwing it in the river”),  packed up their little girl and their dog, stuck a pin in a map, and headed to Florida. No official jobs to speak of, most people thought it was a crazy idea, but the thinking was – i could draw anywhere, and as long as there was an airport near-by Bob could find a job flying planes.

November of that same year, like a literal Phoenix, AirTran Airways emerged from the ashes of a previous incarnation with a new name, a new logo, a new slogan, and a new business model.  And on May 4, 1998 former Corporate Pilot Bob began Airline Pilot training at AirTran, learning to fly the DC-9 – the jet his father had originally captained at Delta.

December 1999 i created the first flying-themed Christmas card, depicting a cheery, martini drinking, cigar smoking Santa Claus Slipping the Surly Bonds in an open cockpit bi-plane.  Other Santa-as-Pilot illustrations have followed since but it seemed particularly fitting to revisit that theme this year because on December 28, 2014, AirTran Airways will become the thing of legend and old pilot stories, the name and airline officially leaving the skies and becoming a chapter in the books of aviation history.

The scrappy little “Airline That Could” was always something of enigma. It began life with the unfortunate “Formerly Known As…” postscript attached to it’s name, and years after that affiliation faded from memory it still wasn’t very well known among the general flying public. Despite growing into one of the country’s strongest low-cost carriers, and consistently ranking in the top 10 in airline performance and customer satisfaction, only it’s most loyal passengers ever seemed to know what it was. When Bob would say he was a pilot for AirTran, the inevitable response would be, “Air TRAIN? Is that some sort of freight company?”.

But for the folks that counted, Bob’s little “Step-child Airline” (as he affectionately calls it) was known and respected as an innovative air carrier whose ticket agents, gate agents, baggage handlers, rampers, mechanics, flight attendants, dispatchers, and pilots were (and are) some of the most highly trained and consummately professional in the industry.  AirTran developed a state-of-the-art reservation and boarding process, and created the cargo smoke detection and suppressant system, as well as the shielded cabin doors, used by all US airlines today. After 9/11 the AirTran pilots unanimously accepted the minimum pay guarantee (essentially taking a pay cut) so that no employees had to be laid off or furloughed. And in another example of Comrade-In-Arms spirit, AT was the first airline to grant pilots from any and all other (ie: competing) airlines the opportunity to fly non-rev, or ride the jump seat, on AirTran’s planes when they were attempting to commute to work or get home.

In 2004 the last DC-9 was retired and Bob began flying its replacement – the brand new, Boeing 717.  Sleek and fast, with a “glass cockpit” (no more needles and steam gauges, all computer screens), it became the sports car of the fleet. Every pilot’s dream plane.

But all that success and innovation doesn’t go unnoticed forever.  In 2010 another airline giant from the southwest announced acquisition of AirTran’s personnel and fleet of 737s (sadly the 717s were not needed and would be phased out). Of course major business transactions of this nature do not happen overnight, and it takes a lot of time to integrate different operating procedures, and bring everyone up to speed on the new culture, so while the transition details were finalized AirTran, and it’s “little jet”, continued to fly under it’s own name.  The Ghost Squadron (as it is unofficially called) of 717s grows increasingly smaller and at the end of December, the last of the planes will be retired.

But not forgotten, or abandoned.  In a fitting piece of coming full circle Bob’s 717s are going to Delta, the airline where Bob’s dad began his flying career and where Jesse currently cares for the traveling public.  The vertical stabilizer may be wearing a Widget rather than a lower-case “a”, but it’s still the same feisty little sports car of a jet and it has already won over its new flight crews.

On December 28 the last 717 Atlanta-to-Tampa, Florida trip has been designated AirTran Flight 1 and will retrace the route taken by its predecessor airline’s first flight in October 1993.  But this last flight also bears another fitting historic date and destiny because 100 years ago, on January 1, 1914, the first commercial flight took place when pilot Tony Jannus flew a passenger from St. Petersburg, Florida to Tampa. The first time a ticket was sold to the general public for point-to-point scheduled air travel.

So from Critter (the Valued predecessor Jet airline’s call sign, whose logo makes a special guest appearance on the card) to Citrus (AirTran’s call sign) to a brand new radio designation, “Little a” will never be forgotten. Forever dancing the skies on laughter-silvered wings and slipping those surly bonds.

To paraphrase AT’s first slogan – You were, and are, something else!!!       LaK 2014


Six Memories Of Christmas Past… and One Christmas Present

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

2006 was the year Jess turned 17, she would be graduating from high school and heading off to college the next year, so naturally the 2006 Christmas card had to be all about her and i thought it would be fun to show all her past holiday incarnations. So the six “Memories of Christmas Past” also featured on this card were: The Great Granddaughter – 1989, BELIEVE… In the Dreams of a Child – 1992, Chanson Pour Les Petits Enfants… – 1993, Hold Your Breath… Make a Wish… – 1994, Children of the Sea & Sky – 1995, and Behind the Dolphin Smile – 2000.

The background story included with the card read ~

While i feel fairly certain this year’s card is pretty self-explanatory i can never seem to pass up the opportunity to tell a story. So with your indulgence….

For those new to this annual tradition, i have been designing personal greeting cards since 1977, when i was given the assignment in a college printing class. Since that auspicious beginning there have been two adaptations of “A Christmas Carol“, two renderings of a partridge in a pear tree (tho once it was a pelican), anthropomorphic animals of every shape and description (nothing says Christmas like dancing Renaissance ermines), an inspired Star Wars/Good King Wenceslas design (“Master Qui-Gon Jinn looked out, on the Eve of Boonta“) and, of course, Santa Claus: Troubadour Santa, Pelican Santa, Amish Santa, Wizard Santa, Surfing Santa, WWI Flying Ace Santa, Casablanca (ie: H. Bogart) Santa, Pirates of the Caribbean Santa, and a 4-part compilation Celtic god-Scandinavian legend-medieval saint-Victorian Obi-Wan Kenobi Father Christmas Santa(s).

Pleased as i am with all those cards, however, the ones closest to my heart are those six that featured Jesse. Since 1989 she has been my Muse and Inspiration. My guilty-pleasure-obsessive Star Wars/LOTR/Pirates of the Caribbean/Queer Eye/Diagnosis Murder/West Wing co-conspirator. My travel buddy. The light in the window and my very best friend. In 1991 she inspired the very first Christmas story i ever wrote and although she is about to take flight on adventures of her own design, charting her course by her own magical star, she will always be my little girl, and my own beautiful Christmas angel.

“You see? You see? It’s magic, Daddy!” Jesse squealed.  “You’re right, honey…” her father answered, “it’s Christmas.”  Christmas Story 1991

To Christmases Past, Present & Yet To Come    LAK 2006

As i wrote inside the card, and still believe today (and every day) ~ Treasure the moment. Celebrate the magic. Smile, it’s Christmas!


A ew Northern Dittye of the Lady Green-Sleeves (Richard Jones. Ed. 1580)

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

So, this card was done in 2004.  It was third in what became an inadvertent, unplanned,  series of cards that wound up combining Christmas songs with current pop culture interests (the First: 2002 – Good King Wenceslas* with thematic variation suggested by Jesse Klein – a Good King Wenceslas /Qui-Gon Jinn & Obi-Wan Kenobi/Star Wars mash-up.   The Second: 2003 – Drink Up Me, Hearties. Yo Ho – a Jimmy Buffett-Ho Ho Ho And a Bottle of Rhum (Santa’s run off to the Caribbean)/Jack Sparrow(as Santa)/Pirates of the Caribbean fusion. And Third: 2004 – this card – A New Northern Dittye of the Lady Green-Sleeves (Richard Jones, Ed. 1580) – Greensleeves meets Lord of the Rings/with – as i wave my hand in front of you – with a hint of Jedi influence in the tunic).

What can i say – 2002, 20o3 and 2004 were obsession-heavy years for my daughter and i (my beloved Partner In Crime – which is another pop culture reference, but that comes later) and the annual Christmas card has long become a sort of illustrative representation of the Year In Review (whatever the year may happen to be).  Whatever the current passion, interest, hi-light or activity winds up becoming the subject of the card and then i just twist myself into a pretzel finding a way to make it Christmas-y.

Thus, Page and Monarch became Padawan and Master (Jedi) and fit Good King Wenceslas perfectly (there’s more about that in an earlier blog by the way).  Santa running off to the Caribbean in Buffett’s song gave me the ideal springboard for a Pirate Santa (who just so happened to wind up looking like Jack Sparrow. What can i say – it was Young Santa, in his earlier, wild days). And in 2004 Lord of the Rings topped our Mother-Daughter list of obsessions and a favorite Medieval Christmas ballad automatically conjured up images of knights which, then, segued easily into Tolkien’s Fellowship.

Of course things didn’t stop there (they never do). Then came the research – because there is truly nothing i enjoy more than looking up obscure facts to enhance an illustration, or enliven the subsequent background story.  Greensleeves, has long been a favorite Christmas carol (along with good ol’ Wenceslas) and i have actually used it once before as the subject of a card (that year it was a Medieval ermine troubadour and his Lady, cos nothing says “Merrie Chrystmas” like dancing weasels) so i already had a bit of working knowledge about the song’s origins. Such as legend has it that Henry VIII wrote it for Anne Boleyn (never substantiated, and probably not true, but let’s not have the facts get in the way of a good story).

I wound up finding all sorts of fascinating information about the song. There is an entry in the Stationer’s Register in 1580 licensing Richard Jones to print A new Northern Dittye of the Lady Green-Sleeves, so that was the source of the card’s title.  And the earliest lyrics that survive are in A Handful of Pleasant Delights (1584). The tune, i should note, first appears in 1652. More fun (at least for me) a reading of the lyrics shows that it is not a sweet, innocuous love song, but a plea from a 16th century gentleman to his bored mistress. And there are countless versions of the lyrics (including 14 Cavalier songs and John Gay’s lyrics to the tune for The Beggar’s Opera) before William Chatterson Dix wrote the Christmas carol, What Child Is This, to the tune shortly after the Civil war. What can is say – the bawdy history behind a, seemingly innocent, Christmas carol appeals to my devilish side.

Of course i had to squish all that information into the little note i included with the card (this was years before i just started writing page-long explanatory notes in eensy-weensy font size) so many people who got the card that year were a bit flummoxed by the subject and the contents.  I still have people refer to it as “that weird card” (and think it kind of set the standard for the weirder cards to follow.

So on that note, i give you the actual story i included with the card back in 2004 ~

It appears i’ve gone and created another carol-related Christmas card… Okay, technically “Greensleeves” is not a Christmas carol but rather an Elizabethan ballad about a bored mistress of dubious repute. The tune however is wonderfully medieval and there is just something about the music of wandering minstrels and troubadours that can’t help but conjure up images of Christmas ~ at least to me. So whether you prefer William Chatterton Dix’s carol, “What Child Is This”, or John Gay’s lyrics written for “The Beggar’s Opera”, or any of the countless other versions of the tune (including 14 Cavalier songs) may we humbly share this “Handful of Pleasant Delights (where the earliest lyrics of this song can be found, Circa 1584). “Delighting in your company”.  LAK Christmas 2004

Good King Wenceslas* (*with thematic variation suggested by Jesse Klein)

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

So, per tradition, there is something of a story behind this card (there’s always a story isn’t there?  I love a good back story), so allow me to share the explanation i wrote back in 2002, the year i drew, and shared, this Christmas card.

On one hand this is just a traditional rendering of one of my favorite Christmas carols (Good King Wenceslas, in case you missed the title) with the style and subject of the drawing inspired specifically by a wonderful ink illustration (of the same carol) done by A.J. Gaskin (1894). However, upon closer inspection you may notice something vaguely familiar (or Outer Rim-ish) about the Page and the Monarch… this is where the Jesse influence comes into play.

Or, to be more accurate, her obsession with all things Star Wars (mine too, i should add, but this particular card was Jesse’s idea). Only Jesse could read the lyrics to a 149 year-old carol and make a Padawan/(Jedi) Master connection! Of course this is the same girl who, upon seeing the Long Hall of Trinity College in Ireland remarked that it looked just like the Jedi Archive Library on Coruscant. What can i tell you… i noticed that too! (Always kind of fun when interests and obsessions collide.  Even better when you can share them with your daughter).

And so, as you hum the tune to John Mason Neale’s Boxing Day carol feel free to replace his opening lyric with,

Master Qui-Gon Jinn looked out, on the Eve of Bunta,”

NOTE: We’re still working on the rest of the lyrics.    LAK & JL  December 2002

Simple Gifts

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Several times since moving here i have had the great gift of seeing wild dolphins leap in the breakers and surf on the waves, free and playful and full of joy. Twice i have seen newly hatched baby sea turtles make their tiny determined way to the beach.

One day a bald eagle circled over town and recently a parade of jelly fish floated under the Bridge of Lions. Every morning the beach offers a new surprise. Like “beach glass”, it is not always easy to find, often you have to look very carefully and be very patient, but it’s there.

There is magic and wonder all around us if we only take the time to look. To see the simple gifts.

So look with child’s eyes. See the dolphins and sea turtles, enjoy the magic, hunt for beach glass, believe in Santa.

Cherish the simple gifts.

LAK ~ Christmas 1998