Digital Marble – Christmas Tree Ornaments

A Digital Marble (Amazing Circle) made from a photo of a decorated Christmas Tree.

Original photo

Photo manipulating programs have a polar coordinate filter that can turn a photo into a circular shape that is reminiscent of a fortune teller’s orb or marble – or a Christmas Tree ornament! They are also commonly called Amazing Circles.

I’m very excited with my marble photos, though I will soon have so many of them that I expect the novelty will wear off – for you. I don’t think I will tire of it soon because each one is so unpredictable. I never know what will be inside the marble photo until it is complete! Here are the directions for making these using one purchased program and one freeware program.

1. Photoshop Elements 10:

a. Open your picture in Photoshop Elements or Photoshop and enhance it as desired. I usually adjust the lighting levels and sharpen.

b. Crop it to a square, or a ratio of 1:1

c. Click on Filter – Distort – Polar Coordinates – Polar to Rectangular – OK

d. Click on Image – Rotate – Flip Vertical

e. Click on Filter – Distort – Polar Coordinates – Rectangular to Polar – OK. Then I opened FastStone Image Viewer to add borders and text, and also to resize it to fit my blog. This finished marble is 778X778 pixels.   (photo above)

2. GIMP: is a freely distributed program.

The technique for making Amazing Circles is similar to above.

a. Enhance the photo as desired.
b. Choose the Crop Tool (looks like a knife, sort of). Select a Fixed Aspect ratio of 1:1 and select the area you want to use.
c. From the menu bar, choose Filters- Distorts- Polar Coordinates. Uncheck the “To Polar” button. Okay.
d. From the menu bar, choose Image- Transform- Flip Vertically.
e. From the menu bar, choose Filters- Distorts- Polar Coordinates again. Check the “To Polar” button. OK.
f. The resulting circle may not have the background color you desire. Use the Color Picker Tool to select a color from the image. Then use the Paint Bucket Tool to fill the background.

This isn’t a new technique. It has been around for a few years. Click on this link to see a large number of Amazing Circles that have been submitted to flickr.

Christmas Tangle 2019 – Red Berry Tree

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow –

May the Christmas season
fill your home with joy,
your heart with love,
and your life with laughter.

From Margy and The Car Guy

All my favourite holiday Quotations: Christmas Quotations

Previous Christmas Tangle Posts: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014

My very first Christmas Post: The Annual Christmas Letter. (This year I will mention that The Car Guy and I are observing our 50th Wedding Anniversary!)

Perhaps my best Christmas Story: Home – The LEGO Businessman and the Oranges

A Gallery of my Christmas Tangles:

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Literary Origami – Book Fold Angel Decorated

The Book Fold Angel is finished. I added curly paper hair, a halo, and a ribbon around the neck.

How to Make the Curly Hair

A paper strip with three lines of print and a gluing tab on the right side. When the paper is curled there will be three curly locks!

I used two book pages to make the hair. I trimmed the margins off of the top, bottom and one side of the page, and left a small margin on the other side (for gluing.)

Then I cut between the lines, leaving the gluing tab uncut until I got to the third line. Then I cut through the gluing tab too. This gave me strips with three lines of print to each strip.

I used scissors to curl each line, just like you do with curling ribbon. This gave me three curls per strip.

I folded the gluing tab so it was at a 90 degree angle to the curly bits. Then I glued the tabs to the head of the angel (used a glue gun).

The Halo

The halo was a plastic ring that I wrapped in ribbon. I glued a toothpick to the ring, then stuck the toothpick into the head after the hair was finished.


If you want the hair to match the colour of the Angel, use pages from the Angel book. I didn’t do that, unfortunately. I used a different book. My first batch of hair was much whiter in colour – and I didn’t really appreciate the effect that had until after I had glued some of the hair on. For the second batch of hair, I used a page from a book that had slightly yellower pages. When I mixed that hair in with the white hair, it all kind of evened out. Sort of… Over time, I expect the whiter hair will turn yellow too.

I’ve learned that mistakes can often be as good a teacher as success.
– Jack Welch –

Book Folding Directions

Here is the ‘how to’ folding post: Literary Origami – Book Fold Angel.

Here is the ‘how to’ for book folding in general: Book Folding 101.

Santa Claus – About the Reindeer

The Original Eight Reindeer

Santa Claus began his association with Reindeer in 1821 – an event that was chronicled in a narrative published by a New York printer in a booklet called ‘A New Year’s Present’:

Old Santeclaus with much delight
His reindeer drives this frosty night.
O’er chimneytops, and tracks of snow,
To bring his yearly gifts to you.

This rather sketchy introduction became the legend we know today in the 1823 poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”. Written by American writer Clement Clarke Moore, the poem is now better known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. Mr. Moore not only described what Santa looks like, he gave names to all the Reindeer:

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.

Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on Dunder and Blixem!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now, dash away! dash away! dash away all!

In later years, Dunder and Blixem were renamed Donner and Blitzen in some countries.

Enter Rudolph

Rudolph was introduced in 1939 in a booklet for the Montgomery Ward department stores. It was written by Robert L. May.

Rudolph’s story was made famous in a song written by Johnny Marks. Sung by Gene Autry in 1949, it became a No. 1 hit that year.

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
Had a very shiny nose
They day if you ever saw it
You would even say it glows…

Why do some people say there are Twelve Reindeer?

Some people say there are actually 12 Reindeer, but these people simply misheard the lyrics of Rudolph’s song:
‘All of the other reindeer is NOT ‘Olive the other reindeer’,
‘Then how all the reindeer loved him’ is NOT ‘Howe the reindeer loved him’,
‘As they shouted out’ is NOT ‘Andy shouted out’.

Are the Reindeer male or female?

A viral factoid (circulating since the year 2000) suggests that Santa’s reindeer are all female because male reindeer lose their antlers by December. Reindeer experts say that while most male reindeer do drop their antlers by early December, some younger bulls keep theirs well into spring. Of course, a discussion about the gender of normal reindeer is probably a waste of time. Santa’s reindeer can fly and that suggests they are an entirely different species.

A Bit of Photoshopping

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
– Twas the Night Before Christmas –

I like taking photos of the moon. Sadly, Santa and the Reindeer have never crossed over the moon when I was looking at it. Happily, a bit of ‘photoshopping’ fixed that! I took a photo of the moon on a slightly overcast night, then created a new layer in Photoshop Elements to superimpose Santa and his reindeer – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph.

What would Santa say as he disappeared into the night!? Happy Christmas to All and to All a Good-night!

For the Young and the Young at Heart

If you want to see Santa and his Reindeer in action on Christmas Eve, visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website. The long history of this excellent outreach program is told in the story here: North American Aerospace Defense Command Tracks Santa.

Literary Origami – Book Fold Angel

Folded Book Angel

This is one of the easiest Book Fold Projects I’ve found so far. If you would like to try it, the instructions are below. (Be sure to read the Book Folding 101 post first if you have never folded a book.)

1.  The book – mine was almost 180 pages long (90 leaves). If your book has more leaves you will get a ‘denser’ body.

The first six leaves formed the left wing. The last six leaves were the right wing.

2. I used six page leaves for each wing. All the rest of the page leaves were for the body. You can see that the folds on the left wing were made on the other side of the leaf than all the folds for the body and the right wing.

3. This is how the book looked when I was working on it. The top of the book was on my right.  I used a dark piece of cardstock to help make straight folds. I used the stick to make the folds crisper.

4. Side Page Marks for the left wing (front of the book). Measurements are in inches. You may want to vary these to achieve a different look. If you want to work in metric, .5 inches is equal to 1.27 cm – so you will probably want to do some rounding…

First page:   .5 inches from the top of the book.
Second page:   1 inch from the top of the book.
Third page:   1.5 inch from the top of the book.
Fourth page:   2 inches from the top of the book.
Fifth page:   2.5 inches from the top of the book.
Sixth page:   3 inches from the top of the book.

5. The Angel body. My side page mark was 1.25 inches from the bottom of every page.

6. When I had only six pages left in the book, I did the right wing. The marks on these pages were done in the reverse order of the front wing – so I started with the mark that was 3 inches from the top of the page and ended with the mark that was .5 inches from the top.

7. The head – I stuck a styrofoam ball onto a thin wood skewer. The skewer was off centre.
– I carefully cut one of the ‘body pages’ out of the book with an exacto knife and tore it into suitable size pieces.
– I dipped each torn piece into white glue mixed with water (about 4 parts water to one part glue – and you don’t need very much of it!)
– Then I molded each paper piece onto the ball. When it was dry, I did a second layer where needed.
– When everything was dry, I slid the skewer down the spine of the book.

8. Decorating the Angel – I haven’t done that yet!

Literary Origami – Book Folding 101

Angel Book: Hard cover book stands on its own; top view – the folds all begin at the same place along the top of the book. The same is true for the bottom.

Before I show you how to make a Folded Book Angel – there are a few things you need to know first:

1. Book Folding is kind of a free-form craft. There are a few techniques, however, that make it easier!  If you have never folded a book before, then start with a sacrificial book that you can test on!

2. A few book terms – so that we are all on the same page, as it were. Book pages  are printed two to a book leaf.  The words ‘page’ and ‘leaf’ are NOT interchangeable – if the pattern you choose says you need 200 leaves, you need to use a book with at least 400 pages…

3. Equipment: top left: the ‘toaster tongs’ that my father in law made out of clothes pegs; bottom right, l-r: black cardstock strip, creaser tool, ruler, pencil

Also, choose a hard cover book so that the book will stand up on its own. You might want a book with cleanly cut page edges, not rough cut ones – though there might be patterns that would look good with rough edges.

3. Equipment: Besides the book, you will need
a ruler;
a pencil;
– a strip of cardstock that is about 2 inches by 10 inches (5cm by 25 cm),
– a couple of clothespegs to hold the book open when it would prefer to be closed. I use  some ‘toaster tongs’ that my father-in-law made with two clothespegs (side by side) sandwiched by two strips of wood.)
– a creaser tool to make the folds crisper than your fingernail can make them. People who do a lot of book folding buy a tool called a bone folder. You could also use the rounded back of a spoon. I use a pointy stick that is slightly convex from side to side. (A remnant from pottery making days.)

4. The Dangerous Part: The pencil mark and scored line on the top end of the book.

4. The Dangerous Part – Marking the fold marks on the top and bottom of the pages. You do this so that all your folds begin at the same place on the top or bottom of the book. I do this by Measuring, Marking and scoring. You’ll need a pencil and exacto knife or a regular knife to do this. (Knives – the dangerous bit)

With the book partly closed, stand it on its top covers.  You are going to create a scored line across all the pages. Measure about 3/4 inch (2 cm) from the spine and draw a line like you see in the photo. Using the ruler and an exacto knife or a regular knife, score the line so that you can see the score on each page when the book is flat and open. (It is very difficult to do a nice fold if that top mark is too close to the spine!)

You will do this to both the top and the bottom of the book.

If you don’t want do this step, then you can devise some other way to line up your folds so that they are consistent across the top and bottom of the book.

5. Turn the book so that the top of the book is on your right and the spine is at the top of your work surface. You should be able to faintly see the marks you made on the top and bottom of the book. You’ll make another mark on the side of the page. In this case, for the angel, I made a mark 1.25 inches (3 cm) from the bottom of the book.

Top on the right. Spine at the top of the work surface. The mark on the top and bottom of the book are the ones you scored with the blade of a knife. The mark on the side of the page is, in this case, 1.25 inches (3 cm) from the bottom of the page.

6. Most folds begin (or end if you prefer) from a mark on the top of the page (or bottom of the page) to a mark on the side of the page. A cardstock strip is a handy tool for making straight folds. Align the cardstock so it touches the top of the page mark and the side page mark.

One fold is made from the mark on the top of the page to the mark on the side of the page. The second fold is from the mark on the bottom of the page to the mark on the side of the page. Align the marks along the piece of cardstock.

7. Hold the cardstock securely in place with one hand and use the other hand to fold the page along the cardstock. Press with your finger. This fold made a nice triangle, but it caused the page to overlap the previous page. A second small fold corrects the overlapping situation.

Small fold.

8. Your last fold goes from the bottom page mark to the side page mark.

The last fold.


9. When you are done, use your crease folding tool to make everything crisp.

Make the folds crisp.

10. For some projects, you will have two marks on the side of the page.

The two folds when there are two marks on the side of the page.

11. When you aren’t working on your book, close it and store it under a stack of two or three heavy books. That will help to compress the folded pages.

That is the basics. Other posts in this series:

Literary Origami – Heart and Cat
Literary Origami – Folded Book Angel
Book Fold Angel Decorated
Literary Origami – Book Folding 202 – A Paw Print
As the Month Unfolded – I Folded Easy Angles
Book Folding – the Letter ‘M’ and Fringe Flowers
The Dark Side of Book Folding

This and That – More Bruce Moose

Naming the Moose

(see previous post Another Moose) Thanks to everyone who suggested these names: Wink, Marty and Rudy. Bruce got a thumbs up from a number of people, so I think the moose will retain the nickname (Bruce) but will have an official name that will appear on any legal documents: Martywinkrudy the 1st.

What the Dog Thinks

gooooob morning. today has infinite wondrous possibilities. i’m going back to sleep. but you should find out what they are
– Thoughts of Dog @dog_feelings Nov 26 –

the small neighbor human. came over after school. to try to get me to eat their homework. while i don’t condone such behavior. i absolutely complied
– Thoughts of Dog @dog_feelings Sep 17 –

From Gingerbread man to Reindeer Head

Food Department

If you have a gingerbread man cutter, then you also have a reindeer head cutter…

Who knew that the staple of any good prison meal, stale bread and cheese, could be made into high-end gourmet dining by melding the cheese and cutting the bread into cubes. (Fondue)
– Bangor Maine Police Department –

In Canada we don’t say “I love you: we say “I’m going to Timmies do you want anything?”
– Author Unknown –

Man does not live by coffee alone. Have a danish.
– Author Unknown –

News from Around the World


What’s most frustrating is the fact that driver’s license photos are so terrible. I think it has a lot to do with the process of aging. You know, the time between actually arriving at the License Bureau, and getting called for your license?
– Daniel C Chamberlain, Author @DanCChamberlain Oct 10 –

Over the next few weeks my IQ relative to the general public is going to increase as I have blocked #impeachment. No, I do not have a “civic duty” to sacrifice valuable neurons to the opinions surrounding this process.
– Medical Axioms @medicalaxioms Nov 14 –

Kelly Campagna @warriorwoman91 Jul 22: Why are men so dense?
Ben Shapiro @benshapiro Jul 23: Higher muscle mass, greater bone density due to hormonal differences during development…


The year is 2192. The British Prime Minister visits Brussels to ask for an extension of the Brexit deadline. No one remembers where this tradition originated, but every year it attracts many tourists from all over the world.
– Julian Popov @julianpopov Oct 19 –

Don’t run with bagpipes. You could put an aye out or worse yet, get kilt.
– Author Unknown –


My favourite line from the #elxn43 french language debate was Justin Truedau saying he’ll stand up to Alberta and the oil barons. Brother, you bought a $4.5bn pipeline. You ARE an oil baron.
– Dónal O’Beirne @DonoYEG Oct 11 –

An alarming court document, God v. Canada. Turns out to be an immigration appeal by a guy named Badri God. So, close one!
– Blacklock’s Reporter @mindingottawa Nov 25 –

If you spend your time on here (twitter) demonizing people who vote differently from you then I’m sorry but you’re the problem. Not them.
– Kristin Raworth @KristinRaworth Oct 3 –

 A Wise Celebrity

I’m going to my favorite Los Angeles area Hallmark store on this holiday just to see how they managed to rhyme “indigenous.”
– Pat Sajak @patsajak Oct 14 –

I don’t normally use Twitter to plug my commercial ventures, but I’m very excited about my soon-to-open clothing store chain, Forever 72.
– Pat Sajak @patsajak Oct 10 –

Other Stuff

At the bookstore:
Me: “Do yall have any books on turtles”
Cashier: “Hard back?”
Me: “Yeah, with little heads”
– wHyZgUy @_WhyzGuy_ Mar 28 –

Someone from the Gyna Colleges called. They said the Pabst Beer is normal. I didn’t even know you liked beer.
– Author Unknown –

There will only be 21 million Bitcoins.
What happens when 7.52 billion people realize that?
– Brilliant Ads @Brilliant_Ads Jun 21 –

I recently called an old Engineering buddy of mine and asked what he was working on these days. He replied that he was working on ‘Aqua-thermal treatment of ceramics, aluminum and steel under a constrained environment.” I was impressed until, upon further inquiry, I leaned that he was washing dishes with hot water under his wife’s supervision.
– Facebook Oldtimers –

How to keep the drapes closed in a hotel room:

Last, but not Least

The Bigfoot file has been declassified.
We think we still have the suit somewhere in storage. Fun times.
– The Mossad: Elite Parody Division @TheMossadIL Jun 7 –

Red Lily Beetle Invades Alberta

Red Lily Beetle

I normally do not use pesticides at my place. I’m fairly tolerant of anything Mother Nature invites into my back yard. So, in 2011, when some pretty, bright red, unspotted beetles showed up on my lilies, I welcomed them. There was no question that their intent was to eat the lily leaves, but I had lots of lilies, so I was content to let them graze. I was confident Mother Nature would send in some troops to keep the beetles in check. That was the first year.

The second year, the beetle numbers had multiplied. Their offspring were disgusting, gooey things. By the time my lilies started to bloom, there was not much left of them to bloom. I searched the internet, and discovered unsettling information about this red lily beetle. It is very hardy, isn’t bothered much by chemical warfare, and has no natural enemies in my part of the world.

Many gardeners have apparently torn out their lily beds, rather than try to control the beetle. I decided to embark on a process of elimination, armed with a bucket of soapy water, a pair of forceps, and a stiff sheet of white paper. I started as soon as my lilies poked their heads out of the ground. Every morning I would inspect the leaves carefully. When I found a beetle, I would capture it and throw it in the bucket of soapy water. I’d read that the beetle is a very strong flier, but can’t swim. I have confirmed the swimming part of this information. Not a single one of the beetles survived.

Orange Lily

You are probably wondering what I used the forceps and the paper for. The forceps were very handy for plucking the beetle out of hard to reach places. The paper was to foil one of the beetles other skills – invisibility. When the beetle senses danger, it drops off  the plant onto the ground. It lands on its back, where it lies quite still. The underside of its body is dirt color… so I would position the sheet of paper under the plant so that the beetle would drop on the paper instead of the dirt. The beetle was no longer invisible!

02-red-lily-beetle2During the height of the beetle season, before they started to lay eggs, I increased my lily inspection to two or three times a day. Eventually I ran out of bugs to catch, and I did not see a single one of the disgusting larvae. I was cautiously optimistic that there were no more red lily beetles in my yard – for that year, anyway. I had every reason to expect a glorious display of lily blooms that year. And I would have if the hail hadn’t got them…

The Lily Beetles returned. In the spring of 2015 I gave up the fight. I started to remove all my lilies except one – the White Trumpet Lily.

White Trumpet Lily

Removing some types of lilies is as difficult a task as removing the Lily Beetle. The orange lilies produce lots of little bulblets that are easy to overlook when the parent bulbs are removed. In other words, the lilies keep coming back, no matter how often I remove them. I’ve given up trying. If the lilies and the lily beetle can reach some sort of détente, who am I to interfere?

Detente – isn’t that what a farmer has with his turkey – until Thanksgiving?
– Ronald Reagan –