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. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Saturday Evening Post

I wrote two letters last night. An old stationery box served as a lap desk. This is the envelope for one. You can barely make out the name on the box, but the logo cannot be mistaken for anything other than what it is. Hallmark's. 

It doesn't get more bare bones than this, does it? I like it just as much as the first one though. James Beard's grin steals the show. The plain white envelope holds a single sheet of paper with two sentences. It holds a letter to someone who used to be a best friend forever. Someone who saved my life, someone I loved the way I never loved my sisters. She was better than a sister. We parted ways under a dark cloud of mistrust, hurt, feelings, outsider interference and misunderstandings. She wrote to me a few years after my departure. So much time had passed before the letter finally caught up with me, and I still had not let go of the feelings of betrayal I felt justified in nursing before I finally answered, that the moment for reconciliation passed and died. 

I've never really known how to nurture the friendships I deserve. I have a feeling most of my peers don't know how to either. Military families learn not to hold on to anything that can't be boxed, crated, or shipped ahead. Emotions and affections hardly ever survived a move. Sworn oaths of forever and ever friendships never stood a chance. I often read posts about high school reunions, best friends and first love reunions, and I can only wonder. I leave comments in my wake that ask the same old questions.  "How do you sustain your friendship? What's it like meeting again?" Or, "Is the magic still there?" I have never received a satisfactory answer--an explanation.

Surely there's a secret formula that was kept from little-girl me. Teen me. Adult me. I've lost three forever friends in this lifetime. I've tried reconnecting twice. People change. They lose trust. Hurt hearts don't always heal. Still and all, I have to try again. Third time's the charm, right? So, I Googled her maiden name, her married name, having forgotten her new post-divorce name. I used to know it but something powerful blocked it out. I searched blindly for years. I even asked Erin for help. No success. No results. Then yesterday, a hunch came from out of the blue. It took a single search. Intuition is a powerful thing.

I found my once upon a time best friend. She's been on FaceBook for years. She's on every bit of social media that's available to humanity. I'm not. No matter. The universe knows all. It knew when to whisper "Get up. Go look for her." I listened. I heard. I obeyed. And so, I drove all the way to the post office to mail the letter that can open a door to a pathway of reconciliation, or . . . I can't even say it.

I have a sore throat. My lips are so dry. How dry are they? My lips are so dry they hurt. My ears ache. It rained on my way home from the post office. I miss the sun but the air is thinner-drier-cooler. Sounds carry much father. I want to pull on another pair of socks, a hoodie, grab my book and crawl into bed. But I'm not sick. A simple antihistamine should fix me right up. I have to tell you this first . . .

My letter from the Postal Consumer Advocate led to hours of postal related reading, and the Dead Letter Office kept popping up. It's been renamed but I prefer the title DLO. So. Do you know even a little about the DLO? If you do, will you share what you know? Did you know there's a show on Hallmark called, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered?" Can you believe that I took these photos just for you? Check out the collar bling on this young actress's collar.

Check out her roller skates. When asked why roller skates, she offered her colleagues this bit of information: Dang! I forget! No. Wait! I think she said postal employees in Norway wear roller skates, and it speeds up production by I forget how much. Note her lavender knee pads. Also note that she is the only one wearing skates. But do check out the blurred surroundings. Have you ever gone into the body of your local post office? I have. Ours look nothing like this beautiful space.

I wish I knew what the contraption on the left is. My Olympus takes better television photos, but my phone was handier. Scene after scene is filled with more interesting things than the story lines in this show, but it's worth trying to see past the poor scripts and bad acting to enjoy all the stuff that makes you wonder.

Why, oh why are those beautiful mail boxes there? Oh. To make the show look more postal? Props. They're mere props. *sigh*

I almost cropped this poor photo but didn't because it's part of the reason why it landed in the Dead Letter Office! Aha! You get it, yes? Yes! Dead letters go dead for specific reasons. Well, yeah. Right? So, these actors get to . . . Oh my goodness, they have a Miss Special Letter pageant? The actors get to spend each episode solving the mysteries behind dead letters, while romance takes root and gets help blooming and stalling. 

Do you know there's even a "Dead Letter" movie? Did you know a famous work of art ended up in the DLO? Do you know there are DLO auctions for totally dead mail? Ahem. The manila envelope has a major clue written on the back. I think it was written by the deceased. Collectors covet the labels attached to returned DL heirs. Do you have a little dead letter label in your safe? I hope you'll check out the Hallmark Channel's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." You might not like it but it'll sure make you groan grin a lot. *very big grin*

Write on.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Show & Tell in Lieu of . . .

 My phone's camera is easier to use than the scanner. So, I took this photo on September 22. I did it for my records. I wrote to the Postal Service Consumer Advocate. I wasn't sure who handled problems such as mine. Advocates advocate. Right?

I believe there is an answer for every question asked. Well, guess what. I won't share the answer until after you weigh in. I've asked before. I ask again. Do you remember when postage for note cards was not the same for letters? It cost less to mail the smaller form of correspondence. I was beginning to think I'd tarried in the Twilight Zone too long. Or made it up. Now do you remember?

I'll share the information sent to me from L'Enfant Plaza SW tomorrow. There's an enclosure!

I confessed my new rubber stamp hoarding tendency yesterday. Here's a look at the tin they're in. They were on sale at 40% off at Aaron Bros. on the day JC got them for me! A coupon offered an additional 10% discount, so you know I wasn't about to pass these up for a frame. 

Aren't they beautiful? I've opened the tin, picked up each piece and gently stroked the rubber, and replaced them in their original order. It had to stop. And so it did. 

None of us remember 6¢ air mail postage! Google gave me hours of information about postage stamps, their increases, decreases, and  and air mail. I'm happier for having finally used this little gem.

I stamped the back of an envelope I used to doodle ideas for my Halloween postcard, hence the fanged pumpkin. I think air mail stamps should be blue for blue skies, or red for haste. Red is also one of my forever favorite colors. 

While researching the 33¢ postage stamp, which was an apple of different colors, by the way. Remember? How quickly we forget, huh? We're allowed! We go through stamps the way Imelda Marcos went through shoes. There really was a 6¢ air mail stamp though. The American Philatelic Society wrote all about it. See the details here:

Oops! I guess I didn't restore them to order after all. Confidentially, Cavallina & Co. are awesome sauce!

Write on.

P.S.  Heard you heard of luminesence tagging? I don't lick anything postal any more. I can live without a glow-in-the-dark tongue. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hump Day Mail

No. Yesterday was hump day. I'm just too lazy to come up with a quick replacement title right now, so pretend it's catchy and appropriate for this post. Maybe I'll change the title before I'm done. One never knows, do one? I had a little German rock sugar with my tea. Sugar gives me a headache, and my brain kicks into hyper-drive . . . 

I wrote four letters last night. Well, three letters and a notecard actually. Okay. Two letters, a notecard, and a single page note-letter. Do you ever forget what it's like to send a plain old envelope any more? I fretted over this practically naked one for a few minutes before I decided that sometimes less really is more. I'm that way with get-well cards sometimes. Once in a great while Hallmark, et al. get it right, and I wonder why should I mess with perfection. I might add a sentence or two and identify myself before sealing the envelope.

Looks like I tried to compensate here, huh? Truth is, there was too much negative space between the two stamps. The redness to the left tugged attention to that side, but only after the "confidential" stamp failed. The arrow did the trick, don't you think? I wonder what my art teachers would say if they saw these things. 

I was just having fun with this one. I needed to break in a tin of stamps I bought mid-summer. Do you ever put off breaking in new stamps because you want to hold on to the unsullied surfaces for a while? Or do you dive right in? See? There goes that hoarding gene kicking in again. The world could have ended in June, and I'd have missed out on having a whole bunch of fun.

There's a blue moon, so why not a blue gnome too? Could he be Papa Smurf's missing link? I like this guy. I'll let him out again real soon. And, he'll be a paler shade of blue.

When's the next blood moon? The apple and orange reminded me of the blood moon eclipse. I missed it. But the day after, the lovely book, The Beauty of Different was delivered to my door. I've had great good mail every day this week. 

That heavy bottle of ink came this afternoon. Sapphire. From Pelican's Edelstein Ink Collection. We never know when to expect mail. Today I didn't mind much. Monday's mail was delivered after 5 pm. Delivery times change with each new mail person who takes over our route. I almost missed the mailman this afternoon. He was early! He rang the doorbell, left the box, and . . . I forget which day a copy of The Anatomy Lesson made it, but I finally finished The Paying Guests, which did not come via . . .

Haha-ha! You got it!

Now, about the first cartoon. Haven't you wondered that very same thing? Well, let me tell you this. I felt like Grimm this afternoon. I know the mailman saw me with my stack of mail. He heard me open the door moments after he rang our bell. He had to have seen me from the corner of at least one eye, seeing as how he was midway across our grass by the time I called out, and he had time to toss something into the truck, get in the truck, start it up, and check for traffic before he pulled away. 

He drove the length of two houses before he stopped at the next cluster of boxes. I know he saw me in his rear view mirror. So, he exited on the right, walked towards me, and had his hand out before I'd reached the middle of our street. I smiled and asked if he'd take my letters. "Yes ma'am," he said. And I, "Thank you." God, but I sounded like Brenda Leigh! What would Grimmy have done for real? 

Ya' gotta like mail humor! "Mother Goose & Grimm" rank right up there with the old "Crankshaft" comics, back when he was still backing over mailboxes and deliberately leaving children at the bus stop. And Maxine! Stereotypical Maxine.

Here's another, just in case I get slapped with a cease and desist order. Save my bacon and visit the artist's site. Laugh in short controlled bursts, then read on. I'll tell you about The Beauty of Different letter another day.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Getting Mail Is a Special Occasion

Ooo-wee man! Another great mail day! I've sent out stacks of mail for days in a way. This reminds me of "Bread cast upon the waters comes back toast." Mail art is like buttered bread. And great mail is like French toast! Today, ten pieces of correspondence feels like I brought home whole loaf of all my favorite breads! 

I should have taken a better picture but if I don't write this right now, it might be midnight before I get another chance. I was so excited that I had all this lovely mail, why, I had to read most of it in the post office parking lot. Thanks, y'all! There's mail from two people I hadn't heard from in a good long while. Color my world happy! It's a wonderful mail day.

Old school cool, huh? I'll use it because of the birds, because it's small enough to fit in any bag, and because I still heart paper. Thank you, Hallmark.

Life is full of Hallmark moments. And art imitates life. 

I get a free holiday Mason jar if I go back next week. I wonder if Mason ever imagined his glass jars would be so popular. I have some of Mason's jars. They get used year-round. Only the contents change with the seasons. Postcard, anyone?

Ah, the stationery. They don't make it like they used to, do they? I seldom find paper that's as beautiful as some as yours. This has a nice feel. I feel lucky.

Wincing! A-B-C-D-E-F-Gee! It's just what I need. It's made of neoprene. Okay, the actual name is Neoprene Organizer Aztec. Aztec? What's Aztec about it? Is that the name of the font? Hmm.

The neoprene is a soft, gentle, colorful protector for my favorite pen du jour. And there's room for my phone. Or my readers. Oh, happy day!

Then there's this. I hope he doesn't follow my blog because Simon won't forgive me if he sees this. A whisker is caught in the clip of my pen. It happened while I was writing, and it took a while for him to free it. No, I did not help him. He and Minuet must think they can read and write; well, they act like it sometimes. Mail gets chewed. Mail gets delivered from room to room. Simon meows like he's delivering the real deal, or a dead mouse. JC threatens them with exile. Ha! Would you have believe me if I'd told you instead of letting you see it for yourself? Mail does funny things.

Write on.