Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I Want to Wish You a . . .

Greetings! My small tribe will be home for the holidays. Yea! I'm opening the house, JC just called to say his flight was delayed, and by golly-golly, Erin will be home tonight! Oh, happy day! We are home for the holidays!

The tree is up, the mantel is all spruced, gifts are wrapped, but in need of ribbons and bows. I've got baking and whipping and more fripping to do, but I had to pause 'cause I needed to say . . .

Hey! Have a wonderful holiday!

with Love,
Limner & The Fat Chick

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

This Is a Word's World

This is a word's world. But it wouldn't be nothin' without an epistolary-minded woman or a girl. I can easily imagine James Brown spinning in his grave now. Or not. He probably understood artistic license better than most, therefore I will studiously imagine him smiling instead.

So, indeed, it is this epistolary-minded woman's prerogative to bend a word, a phrase, or an image. And mine is truly a world of words and pens, ink and winks. Oh! And quick thinking. So why couldn't I find the right word to rhyme with world? There's curled, furled, burled, hurled, whirled, knurled, twirled, purled, swirled . . . I couldn't come up with an image for this year's Halloween postcards either. 'Tis a barren sketch pad I hold before me. Well not exactly barren. I put more than a few useless marks on quite a few pages. In the end I put down my pencil. But, no matter. In the end I managed to save my bacon skin. You'll see.

Not only did I take a page from my own book by following my own advice . . .

I managed to come up with ideas for new homemade postcards! You'll see. 

Halloween letters are interesting. I forgot to include the little spooky bats, cats, and witches! Don't you love it when you open an envelope and little cut-outs flood your lap? Ha-ha! Bees are really spooky, huh? I should have done a bee on a broom. There's always next year. *sigh*

Determined, I reached way-way-way back. I went all the way back to 1991, and this is what I pulled from my bag of artist's Halloween tricks. Ha! No pun intended, but since I'm there? Finding this was a treat.

So, I got busy. 

In a word? I had fun with puns and pens, words and toothy pumpkin grins. This is what it looks like inside the wordy world of an old epistolary-minded girl. I did it! I rhymed! I did it! Get it?  Power to the wordies! This is a girl's world too, y'all.

Write on.

P.S. Um, I mailed a whopping ten Halloween postcards today. What's your count?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

See? I Told Us So!

I found my necklace. Surely it's a sign that it must be used as a prop, and proof that indeed, we do respond to the shifts in seasons, even unintentionally. Cool colors, right? Not too warm, not too cold. They're just right for early fall.

Drop the colors atop a for-sure fall color, and . . . Did I mention how this horse is on display in the Chicago Institute of Art? It's also a postcard now. 

Look at the horse with the necklace. Look at the leaves. You are getting sleepy. You are putting on a little body fat. You want to play in the leaves. You want to write letters about leaves!

This is some of today's mail. Awesome fall colors, huh? 

Some people are SO creative! Why didn't I think to use tea packets like this? Wolfey, you amaze me. And you remembered the monarch madness that sweeps through my town twice a year. I'm hugging that stamp. Thank you. I am so lucky.

Ahem. I know you notice the connections here. Unsure? Scroll up. Slowly. Scroll down. Even slower. Now grin. I recently saw yet another documentary about Stonehenge and what lies beneath. Did you catch it? There are several magazine articles that I have not gotten around to reading, too, then whoosh! I get a Stonehenge postcard! Thank you, Scriptor!

Then there's this gem. Did I mention what a good mail day this is was? Oh, but it was a goodie! My used-to-be-best-friend wrote back! I was sweating bullets because it took a while, so you know that I feared the worst. Blame nerves for my mess-up with her address and call it karma. I'm so grateful to the person who fixed things and made it possible for her to get my two-liner. I was so happy! I read her card in the post office parking lot. Then I grinned all the way home! Turns out she'd been looking for me too!

But back to the stars, stripes and bombs bursting in air. I remember way back in the day when Misty wrote a post about the meaning behind stamp positions on an envelope. Remember that? Do you reckon the meanings are universal? Do some people really imagine that we won't possibly pay attention to how a stamp sets on an envelope? I mean, who doesn't think we notice? *eye roll* This comes from a woman who misses the obvious, but not the . . . Well, let me say this. I am not completely asleep at this wheel. I keep one eye open. Call me Cyclops. 

And, I am angry. Can you tell? Why am I angry? I am angry because the tip of my nose is itching like crazy, my skin stings, my sinuses are swelling, and I must take a Benadryl, all because the person who penned the letter inside the envelope that bears the canted stamp, put aftershave, or man-fume on the paper. Why-y-y-? Who does that any more? I won't even answer, but please don't send unsolicited, scented anything to anyone. Someone should write an etiquette book about such insults. Scented mail is as offensive to me as an Anthony Weiner selfie would be. I would have tossed it out the car window had I known it would make me sick, but then again maybe not, since my address is on the envelope. The letter! Well, the Weiner selfie too . . . 

See? I had to buy these beauties. Such fall colors, yes? They're a reward for finishing The Goldfinch. I did, I did, I did! And, I didn't go sling it in a cow pasture afterward. I actually liked parts of the tome. More toward the end, but yes, Theo set out on a path to redemption. It just took him too long. That book would have been fantastic had it been edited to half the paper they used to tell such a pathetic story. Some people self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, sex, alcohol-drugs-and-sex, but I'd be too afraid of frying my already damaged brains. Oh, wow. Maybe that's why some people commit suicide. How sobering. What a somber way to end a post, but that's life, don't you think? Which reminds me of what Theo was thinking in the last fistful of pages. He wasn't so crazy after all. He just didn't think. He simply acted out.

I know, I know. I could have said, John dies at the end, but I won't, since it isn't true. John would be Boris in this instance, but speaking of Boris? He wasn't as dumb as he pretended either. I'd never want a friend like him, but he was what Theo needed. 'Tis true that there's someone for everyone. My old friend, Stas, gave me a little magnet that asks, "Is there a little fairy in your life?" This was back in the 80s. It's on the refrigerator. It wasn't until maybe five years ago that I got it. I'll take a picture--show you the magnet--but Auntie Stas is gay. Sometimes I think I need a little fairy. Oh. But not all fairies are good, right? But as I meant to say! I wish you and I could discuss pages 745-746, 757-761. At least those few pages. I like Theo's thoughts about art and time, good and bad . . . I believe that he and Pippa will eventually "come to her senses." *wink* And, as much as I hated/loved The Goldfinch I wish I had the time and courage to read it all over again. I'll use the time to write letters instead.

Write on.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Seasoned Mail

There is something about a new season that activates an uncontrolled impulse to clean, tidy up, rearrange our lives and homes, and we either shed our lethargy in spring and summer, or hunker down for a quiet time in the fall and winter. I tend to put on a little body fat in case there's a blizzard or a winter emergency that might prevent me from driving to the grocery store. for a week.  Extra body fat is my sure signal that fall is around the corner, unlike the signals Erin notices. This is her photo, by the way. She always sends me seasoned photos. We loved watching the aspens turn when we lived in Colorado. We'd hustle to the park at the first sign of snow because we wanted to make the first snow angels! 

My daughter knows how much I miss the seasons. She grew up listening to my stories of winters in my home town, in Oklahoma, Killeen . . . We used to fly home to Dallas just because it snowed! There was no snow in Houston. There was rarely snow in Jasper too. My grandma had gas heaters but she chose to have the wood heater put up each year at the first sign of summer fading. It stood in the living room like a great big giant steel pig, silently waiting for the first sign of frost before it would be fed the wood it hungered for. Cords of fire wood and pine knots were stacked window high and four feet long, on the porch three hurried steps away from the front door, making it easy enough for a fire-feeder to grab more without being chilled to the bone. I hated getting wood! There were spiders and monsters lurking in the hidey spaces.

Although I learned how to lay a proper fire, I was never allowed to.  Aunt Pauline was the fire starter. No one laid a fire so well. Aunt Annie swore that she refused to share her secret out of spite. Although I disagreed, children were seen and not heard so I've kept my opinion to myself until now. Aunt Annie does not have access to this blog. No matter. It wasn't until years later that I got my chance to start my own fire--in a mountain fire place--and it wan't easy. There were those egg carton fire starters but nary a pine knot to be had! 

But anyway, it's as hot as summer here. The few subtle nods to a new season come coded in thinner air, with leaves falling off fig trees, hard crepe myrtle buds turning to little black pods, and afternoon light shining as gold as spun sugar. Sound carries farther and clearer, reminiscent of the sounds from the hollow my grandma lived in--a clear wood pecker's hammering, dead tree limbs falling and sounding too-too close,  the "hell-o-o-o!" Aunt Pauline yodeled echoing like magic. Leon, I always imagined it was Leon who yodeled "Hello-o-o!" back, just for show. 

Okay, I digress again, but I miss the smell of wood smoke, a fall chill, and a fall palette of leaves. All this green is unnatural. Well, maybe not, since it's almost always been this way. I cannot change it. But, seasoned mail is doable! It's a start. 

I found an eleven year old bee stamp! I almost stepped on a bee this afternoon! There were two of them harvesting from the little grass daisies. A sure sign that I'm on the right track? It reeks of rubber. It's been in the garage for eleven years. Sorry.

    Red is a fall color! Waxed impressions are always fun mood lifters. Oops! Sorry. I made a mail tube and sealed both ends with lovely red wax. Red really pops on brown craft paper.

    I got to use some of the hoarded goodies from my paper stuff hoard. Walt Whitman is from a post-it note. P.T. Mail is always good mail, 'cause it's silly fun.

    Three letters and a fat Copic. Such fall colors, yes?

    The little bee got quite a workout. It still smells of rubber. Maybe it just needs using? I've never lost a stamp, so I hope the smell isn't a sign of things to come. *sign* There's a tiny little ant too. Another clear sign of fall in Katy is the hyped up ant activity. They've dug a hill above a little hole through a gap in the silicone that protects the wood of the brace for the back door. I'm sure brace is not the proper word but the piece of wood is an actual brace. The hole is the size of a pencil lead, and today is the third time they've invaded by way of the unsealed space. They do it in the hottest days of summer, and when they're hunkering down for the coming winter. I undo it. I kill all the workers. They keep coming back. 'Tis only fitting that fall mail include an ant or three.

    And shame on me. I found this gem in the bottom of a plastic storage tub that has been in the garage for eleven years. It was inside a Baggie, so I wasn't uncaring, although entire short cartridge worth of ink had to be soaked and cleaned away, before I could try it. And, guess what.  It still works. It writes beautifully. Its heft is ideal. So, why was it abandoned and forgotten for over a decade? I don't know. 

    Flashes of memory might explain it, but who can rely on glimpses? There was damage to the nib. Slight and easily repaired, but the pen is in great condition otherwise. Google research shows how it might be an Asian pen with claims of an iridium nib to boost its value. Are you familiar with any pens without a name or logo? Are you familiar with the Genius brand? Help? 

    I wish you great mail. I wish you seasoned mail! Season liberally on your own behalf.

    Be well.

    Sunday, October 19, 2014

    Sunday's Mail

    I'm already working on Plan B! No one answered the question correctly, so I get to hold on to the prize. In case you forgot:

    Some entries are quite clever. Thanks for playing! But no, the guys are not the Four Farts. I imagine them being the Four Winds. You know? From the four corners of the world. See how easy that was?

    I really want to give away this awesome issue of Flow, so I'll have to come up with an easier way to do it. 

    I waited until today to make Saturday's mail run, making Sunday a great mail day. I'm glad I did not wait for Monday. I had mail! Good mail! Interesting and confusing mail. But isn't this sweet? It's a postcard with artwork from my youngest pen friend! Her mom says it's a selfie. Don't you just love it?  It's serendipitous how her colors match the magazine cover. Thank you. You made my Sunday brighter, and I didn't mind the heat so much.

    I wish you good mail.

    Friday, October 17, 2014

    Oh, Who Are the (Sick) People in Your Neighborhood?

    Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood? 
    They're the people that you meet 
    when you're walking down the street . . .

    They're the people that you meet 
    the very ones you don't want to greet
    just in case they have to sneeze 
    and give you a second hand disease . . . 

    Or, I prefer Sesame Street's version, don't you? My littlest neighbors are sick. Alex sounds like he has a frog in his throat, his bronchial tubes hurt, he had a temperature, and just did not feel good at all. His mom took him to the doctor two days ago. I promised to check on him, but my fever spiked and I crawled back to the malinger's watch list, pulled the covers up to my neck and . . . Well, here I am. 

    A neighbor who's just back from Rwanda stopped by the other day. She's sick. Not like that, but she doesn't know who she flew with; JC is almost well. The regular play group is absent, the basketball goal lays abandoned next to the driveway, adults are home from work because they've caught something from their children, and the mailman delivers mail in the evening. At least we think it's the mailman. JC gets the mail at dusk. 

    He mailed my out-going for me this afternoon. Don't be thrown by the stamped date. It's late. I made postcards from an unfinished watercolor of a lighthouse. The painting is over eleven years. There are several versions. The other is half finished too. 

    I'm out of Kleenex, I'm almost out of patience, but I still have wet markers, a new pad of Copic paper, and my imagination works well. So, I made stationery. It began as an idea about talking pumpkins and messages sent through the pumpkin vine. The phone rang and that was that. 

    Then I was thirsty, so I finished my cold tea. Pen and ink are easy. The spoon was in the cup. My glasses needed cleaning, so they morphed into a model. I think the brown stuff in the jar is Nutella. I forgot what the label looks like, and since one can only draw what they know . . . Forgive me for the knife, please? It was an afterthought. I thought the recipient of the letter I'd write on the sheet might get the idea that I ate butter with my fingers, and I couldn't figure out if that slice is cheese, cheesecake, or pound cake. I'd use my fingers on the Nutella for sure. Well, maybe not. And, maybe the butter is for that slice of whatever.

    I had to put aside The Goldfinch, yet again. Seemed like the more I read, the more I had left to read. I read for hours at a time too. The author talks too much. She's beyond generous! She tried to give away every word she's ever learned. Have you read it? This is my second attempt to finish this book. 

    We both know why I chose this one. Right? Such a clever cover. Uh-oh. I just thumbed through it; there's what looks like an entire Q&A chapter. The saving grace might be the letters, but only if they are excerpts from the author's father's actual letters. Immigrant stories are always interesting.

    There are only two tea bags left inside this box. I know I'll be completely well very soon. I like the box but like black breakfast tea even more. Did you ever read the package on your cereal box when you were a kid? Because you were bored? I did. I'd read almost anything back then. When I zero in on the details of this tea box I imagine myself in the scene. That lamb is looking at me. That stile needs to be sturdier; I'll work on it this weekend. Why there are cricket players nearby is baffling, but my neighbor, the woman sipping tea . . . She must be sick too! I'd rather talk to the lamb!

    I sat right up when I saw this! "Dead Letters." 

    Look at the seals! All those red lovelies.

    Want a closer look-see? It's curious, huh?

    And there's this. I immediately thought of Pinky & the Brain. Who wants to rule the world? Not I. I have enough of a hard time ruling myself. I remember reading the story behind this but I'll read it again.

    Yes, the Smithsonian does it again. The stories behind the red seals and Hitler's stationery are worth the reading alone. Oh, shush yourself, George! There's a photo of Eliot Ness. J Edgar Hoover had it in for him. Mum's the word though. It's Carmex time.

    Be well, everyone. And write on.

    The giveaway winner will be announced tomorrow.

    So. Who are the people in your neighborhood?
    In your neighborhood?
    In your neigh-bor-hood?

    Da da da-da-da-da da!

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    Four Days of Filler & Thanks

    Not only am I gaining ground on my backlog of correspondence,  I read the way I used to. I read with fervor. I finished two books in two days. I've only thumbed through The Beauty of Different five times and never fail to wonder if the contents have anything to do with comparing apples to oranges. Time will tell, but I know for sure there's a letter waiting to be written soon. The author lives in Houston. See? Even reading can lead to writing. Letters. Reading can lead to writing letters. 

    A picture is still worth a thousand words, however, I wonder how many words I'll need to explain why I've written a letter to the Hallmark Channel. Finding the address was no easy task. Every entity has a Facebook page, a Twitter account, an e-mail address, but they hide physical addresses as if they're top secret. I want to know what that prop is. It keeps me awake now with all the wondering and inaginating. So, that's two down and more to go.

    This arrived the other day. I was happy. Then I was distracted and forgot to finish telling you about it. I wrote with a question and someone wrote back. The old question about note cards costing less than a letter would not lie still, so I asked someone who should know the answer. See, back in Business Records Keeping class, we had to write a business letter. Part of the pre-letter-writing exercise was a lecture about the different prices for postage. I never wrote a note card until after the price increase! I used air mail a lot because my father was over seas. I loved that tissue thin paper, and envelopes with the red and blue decoration. I did not understand why Daddy got to write home for free and I had to ask Mama for an air mail stamp. Americans would have written more foreign mail if it didn't cost so much. 

    I'd always meant to write to the Queen of England just to ask what she kept in her pocket book. I loved the smells in my mama's. She kept it in the crook of her elbow when she went someplace that required dress-up, and the sound the clasp made when she shut it spoke volumes. One thing it meant for sure was no one else was allowed to open it! Mmm. I can almost taste the smells right now! There were several all mixed together, yet separate. Juicy Fruit gum, pressed powder, lipstick, and coins. Juicy Fruit was always first since it was the strongest, and it had an indescribable scent that made my mouth water and my stomach growl. Especially in church! Do they still make Juicy Fruit? Why did they call it Juicy Fruit? There wasn't anything fruity about it. Oh, Lord! I just had another memory! Since it might be embarrassing I'll ask before I tell. Did you ever see a boy take his gum from his mouth and stick it behind his ear??? To save it for later?

    Okay, here's a look at the letterhead from the other day.  Government Relations? Hmm. I suppose they're saving money by not using color on their envelopes, but it sure would look nicer if they did. No matter. It's the response that counts. Right? And I must say, it is a lovely response. The reason for the difference in postage rates is so simple. Perhaps too simple, or maybe I got it wrong in class. The official reason is this:

    "Prior to 1968 unsealed greeting cards -- with no personal messages written on them -- could be mailed as third-class mail at a cheaper postage rate than the First-Class (letter) rate. . . . If any personal messages were written on them the cards had to be mailed at the more expensive First-Class rate."

    FOI (for our information) Mr. Zip's appearance was unrelated to the elimination of the third-class rate for greeting cards. I didn't think the two were related. Hmm. I must work harder at making myself understood. 

    Enclosed is a link to "some 19th century examples of greeting cards mailed at third-class rates:" Search for "unsealed." 

    "I hope this information is helpful. Thank you for all you do to encourage letter writing and use of the US Mail."

    Signed _____________________________
    Sr. Research Analyst in Postal History.

    Now. Would you prefer open mail or paying a little more for privacy? I seriously doubt postal employees have nothing better to do than read unsealed mail. Right? So, mystery solved. A thank-you note makes three in the out box. See? There's always a reason for a letter.

    Wow. Let me back up the Pony Express. There's more:

    "The third-class single piece rate (at which unsealed greeting cards could be sent) was created in 1863. However, such greeting cards probably weren't being sent under this cheaper rate until the early 1900s. It was apparently a fairly common practice by the 1930s.

    The third-class rate was raised to the same as First Class on January 7, 1968, thus ending the discount."

    All this for a penny? The first-class rate back then was 6 cents. 

    Moving on . . . I wrote a few posts ago that I had no love letters. Well, guess what. I found one yesterday. For real! It's so old the stamp fell off. It started off so sweet that I blushed. I mean really sweet. He wrote how he'd just talked to me but had to write, just because he loved me/missed me. Aww. Right? 

    I found a stack of old letters. Plucked from here and there, they piece together a lovely history: Parts of my past. There are even letters I wrote yet never mailed. One never made it off the mountain because the recipient passed on before I got the chance. I wish she could have read it though; it's a letter to my cousin. She and I used to be like sisters. Then she tried to sleep with my boyfriend. I dumped them both. Wow. Do you ever wand back in written time? It's a trip, huh? Have you ever written letters you wish you could un-write? Or take back? Some have murdered for the right to take back written confessions. Agatha Christie can tell us a thing or two about all that! See? I refuse to become famous because of some letters I've written! Oh, dearie me. *wringing my rings*

    Write on! Just be careful of what you write. And wouldn't it be great to get paid for doing mail research? Or analysis? Analysis? Does that mean someone gets paid to figure out if the mail sent to the USPS is safe or crank or . . . Hmm.