Monday, September 29, 2014

Mail Monday & Memories

Not only did I finish my postcard challenge, I managed to add two more homemade postcards. And, I remembered to wrap a promised package. I was so proud of myself. I'd finally finished a challenge after failing the 365 mail art, the a-drawing-a-day, and I seem to have conveniently forgotten the others. Following through gives one a warm sense of accomplishment, don't you think?

I managed to commit Erin's new post office box address to memory without a hitch. So why can't I remember her new home address? She got the new home first. I believe everything happens for a reason, so finding this little tidbit when I thumbed through a two year old address book (searching for that address!) that I currently use . . . Well, it was meant to be. Not that I recall why I saved it. Or do I? I might have jotted the facts after finding another note meant to remind me to ask a pen friend about her grandmother, who used to be a postmaster. Backtracking is a wonderful thing. It can be fun too. It can even be a little disconcerting if I happen to recall the real reason after I post this. But no matter . . . The fact that the first postmaster, Irving A. Polk was established in 1903. Named after his daughter, it is the only city in the US with the name. Oh! Wait. I think I'd Googled Ft. Polk after a conversation with my mother about the time we lived in Louisiana. *sigh* All mail trivia is fair game, even if I don't remember the why behind it all.

". . . appy project is from the journal entry about my alphabet postcard project. *grin* I was feeling so good about it I simply had to write it all down.

"You've got mail!" I always think that when I've got mail. It's a good feeling, isn't it? I knew immediately who the magazine was from. Dodson, D. is the one person I know who's ever given me a subscription. Thanks, Derrick. Home subscriptions are always damaged or creased down the middle, destroying the joy from the outside in. So I buy 99 percent of the magazines that I read from B&N.

Shucks! I forgot to take a photo of my home mailbox--the cluster curse. The entire mess cants toward the curb because the sidewalk slopes, making the lock mechanism clamp down. The little key is held hostage for way too long, until I pay ransom in the form of   jiggles, wiggles, and muttered threats. Finding mail at the end of the struggle today made my heart overflow. I'm talking good mail. The pob mail was frosting on my good mail day. It was so good in fact that I forgot to mail the 30 pieces of out-going mail. I did not forget to get the new stamps though!

Yes! I got the Celebrity Chefs stamps!!! Did you? I've practically held my breath since the e-mail announcing their arrival landed in my mailbox. I have Edna Lewis recipes, a Joyce Chen cleaver and bamboo steamer! I watched Julia Child on PBS; man could she handle a chicken! I didn't always understand half of what she said, but watching her cook was fun. I have thank-you notes to write to the wonderful chefs at Ani and Sepia, in Chicago. The challenge will be deciding who gets which chefs stamp. 

Dining at Ani was the equivalent of eating pretty. Dish after dish after dish. And the sake? Oh, the sake!

At Sepia's we dined on beauty. Every bite was beautiful. The champagne was the stars-on-top!

I'm ashamed to confess this, but . . . Well, I declined to order dessert. Then I saw Erin's. I don't recall how it tasted, but it felt beautiful on my tongue.

Giddy from the bubbly, compliments of the chef, I think I had some of JC's birthday cake and ice cream. Now I know! I've decided which thank-yous gets the first stamp, and one is reserved for Erin. She created desserts for Ani, and they were joyous! Is a good thing I bought forty stamps!

Oh, by the way, I forgot to mail all those postcards and letters. So I drove miles and miles to another post office. It's that darn brain fog's fault. 

I'm giving it credit for this as well. How did I write my address on Erin's mail? And to give the post office credit, they tried to help. They though it was just the zip that was wrong. I wrote the contents on September 7. I mailed them September 10. The return label is dated September 18. Who tried? The post office tried! I'll get another go tomorrow. All's well that ends as mail. And I've had a marvelous Monday mail day, with vacation memories on top.

I wish you good mail!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

There's Something About A Sunday . . .

And there's nothing short of sighing that's half as satisfying as writing the final postcard in my alphabet challenge, 'cause affixing the final stamp is oh, so gratifying . . . Okay, I'm no songwriter/poet. But I did it. It is done. Keep an eye on your mailbox because I might have sent you one. 

I wrote from A-B-C to P.
Then D-E-F-G
L-M-N-O-no P
Oh! Why, you Y?
and then there was Z.

G, N, U (Not my imaginary gnu!) were harder by far.
Gloria, Nikki and unice?
Pray tell, what is a numbat?
You ask?
I won't tell,
I do recommend:
"Find an Aussie to ask!"

 My lovely plan 
was to send 
a postcard 
from A through Z! 
And that I have done,
so why taunt me? 
Glory be!
The challenge 
Moving on to another
is what happens to me. 

Still, there's just something about a Sunday 
that makes you look forward to Monday, 
when your alphabet mail is good to go. 

Psst! Do you know Zorro's fan mail address?

Write on, y'all! Write on.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Postcard a Day, or Another Saturday Evening Post

It sounded good on paper. It looked great on other blogs. It seemed like a good idea today. So I went with it. Besides, what's the point in having lovely postcards if you don't send them? I suppose I could sell the magazine they're in on eBay fifty years from now, but where's the fun in that? The challenge would be writing away the weekend, not sending a postcard a day. Someone else already does that just fine. My challenge will be mailing the 26 on Monday! Um, you don't see the challenge in that? Well, let me see you come up with 26 names from your address book, then match them with the alphabet. Even harder is deciding who gets the card if five pen friends share the same alphabet for a first name--not a surname. Or should I use surnames as well? I mean, who has an Uma, a Xena, or a Zenobia in their address book? 

The creators and illustrators at FLOW are amazing. They make it hard for a limner to dismantle one of the best magazines ever. I archived chapters torn from an "ancient" arithmetic text book. They are meant to be used. Patty gave them to me not long after I first started OWM. I did some of the exercises! I even kept the old-but-beautiful magazine pages! I will never be a great mail artist if I can't bring myself to desecrate repurpose materials that will otherwise simply decay. Folding, creasing, and detaching perforated postcards from a beloved magazine causes less angst. So, here goes. In case you cannot read the small print, this is what it says: 

"The alphabet: 26 letters that are the basis of everything. We use it do describe what we love, to send invitations, to write letters,  and for the most ordinary tasks, like grocery lists. Each letter has its own beautiful form and that's why we asked 26 illustrators from around the globe to design a letter for us. Each one. On the previous pages are the results: 26 letter cards. Use them to send a personal note, to make a garland, to attach to a gift . . ." 

D is for cats?

The names of the illustrators are listed. How can I not free their art--give it wings to soar among my beloved circle of pen friends? Why, oh why don't you have exotic names?!? Five cards are ready. ABC and D are easy. Only one letter is out of place. Twenty-one will follow in Monday's mail. 

Write on!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Modern Family Moment Mail

Are you familiar with the sitcom, Modern Family? Do you watch it? Is Al Bundy still good ol' Al? Never mind. I caught part of last evening's episode, a rerun, in which Gloria is pregnant, and her neighbor/friend, I'm not sure which, tells her she has that brain fog pregnant and premenopausal women are afflicted with. You forget a lot. Well, I came down with the affliction. I won't say which one, in case you wonder, and when it happens I am shattered. Well, maybe not shattered. I shudder.

And, not ten five minutes ago I whimpered. Shucks! Just lost my train of thought. Was trying to recall where I found this dusty thing . . . Oh, heck! I found it, was happy to have found it, dusted it off after I picked it up and felt something wedged betwixt the pages. I really did whimper. 

Whimpering did nothing to change the fact that I'd put two pieces of mail in a little book, and forgot about them. No wonder some people stop writing! No wonder some people get peed off. There's no telling how long they've been hiding out between pages xviii and xix. It could be the same reason I cannot recall where I found the book just minutes ago. I blame the brain fog. It affects pregnant and premenopausal women, and if we're honest . . . It affects everyone, and not just Gloria. I am neither. I mean, I am not pregnant, premenopausal, or named Gloria. I have an Aunt Gloria though. Should I steam one of the envelopes open? Does it matter? Should it matter? Won't the recipients be happy to hear from me? 

I know this much though, and I give myself credit for recalling it: Stressing out over a "Modern Family Moment Mail" episode in true life is not worth making my brain feel shame. This whole thing is funny as hell. Okay, hell isn't funny--I've been there. It is fodder for this little post, and a squidge of laughter. After all, I could be making dinner instead.

Date of discovery stamped for authenticity. Is also the day I begin to fill up my scavenger book. And who in the world has a pocket big enough to hold it? Oh, well. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Martha's Mail Makers

I'm enjoying catching up with the bloggers I follow. It feels like six months since I last read a post, although I know better. There's always something new and exciting to discover, such as new ways of looking at the everyday, and recognizing the commonalities we share across the globe, new seasonal trends and discoveries, or simply charting how time has moved along. (Did you know there are others who wonder how our planet was named, and why? Again, I thought I was the only one who wanted to know. And, did you know that the Earth is the only planet that was not named for a Greek or Roman god or goddess? See? I'm not the only human who didn't know. There's something new to learn every day.) There's also a stack of magazines I need to read before the next issues come my way. Sometimes the blogosphere crosses paths with the magaosphere, and magic occurs at the point where they intersect. This particular instance lined up over a blog I follow and Martha Stewart Living. Details are all over page 76 of MSL's September issue. 

It's all about the paper. By that I mean page 76 is for paper lovers and letter writers. The title is "The Write Stuff," and it is easy to find at I read about the upcoming stationery piece from one of the artists, whose work is showcased.  Katharine's prints elevate stationery to a whole other level of handmade--even if you're in the habit of making your own. Visit her blog and see for yourself.

You know I had to check out each offering in "The Write Stuff." I wanted to see for myself, and see if I would buy what Martha recommends. So I did. Okay, I checked the ones that interested me.'s has foil stamped craft-paper envelopes with white note cards in the "Gold Standard" Arrow Mail set, which is up my alley at six and six for $18. My jones was for the one thing I did not find not/could not find. The Pocket Books. Then again, I read when I have to wait for something, and waits are never long enough to pen, Dear Friend, I am writing to you while waiting for my annual pap smear, mammogram, or therapy session. That slips to the low totem space right above "Hello, I can't talk right now. Let me call you back." Why answer the phone if you can't talk. Right? So why, oh why would I try "jotting a letter while on the go"? We can still buy something from Martha's Mail Makers though. I'm just grateful for the offerings. I'm a letter-writing-paper-lover too, you know!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Selfie

September 24, 2014

Sincerely sincere,

P. S. And keep your drawing arm limber.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Putting a Price on the Value of a Letter

I just read how valuable JFK's letters to the family of a crew member's family are to today's collectors, and it got me wondering. Will a president's e-mails be just as valuable some day? Will anyone care, unless a scandal is involved? Will anyone value the letters I have written? Oh, wow. What about those old love letters? Some are the equivalent of a modern nude selfie! Or not. But the secrets I shared with my sisters can get me in hot water some day. Why was I the only one to put incriminating details in writing? Now you know why I've never risked becoming famous! I have secrets. Nude photos even. My reputation would never survive being vetted.

Do you ever wonder if the letters you write might make history some day, or be valuable? I wonder if Robert Kennedy imagined that his letters to a classmate would someday warrant as much attention as they do now? His letters were written to Peter MacLellan between 1941 and 1945. Someone paid $31,250 for them! Jack's sold for a mere $20,000. Hmm.

I paid less than $20 for a leather bound book, The Union, that includes letters from a soldier, written during the Civil War, titled "The Civil War Letters of Alfred Edward Waldo." His correspondence covers the years from 1862 through 1864. The last letters were penned by someone on staff at the Armory Square Hospital in Washington, DC, on Alfred's behalf. And here I am, writing about them 150 years later. I am not a Civil War buff. I do enjoy seeing history through letters written--without editing--with candor and honesty, and little concern for how the author might be judged by those who loved him. Alfred put pen to paper, and wrote . . .

"I should like 3 or 4 letters every night." Wishful thinking, huh? He had to have been lonely. (He mentioned Hooker in a letter.) His parents sent him stamps! I Googled the price of a stamp back in 1862, and am willing to bet the folks obliged. Soldiers always crave letters from home in every book or story I have ever read about wars. It just goes to prove that some things never change. But does it take war and being far away from home to get a G.I. to write?

Father & Mother. No "dear?" Probably not, since he included his father in the salutation. When did "Dear" become the standard? And who assumed that every recipient was a dear? Hmm. I wonder who wrote more often. It had to have been his mother, right? Don't you just know she knitted those mittens, too? Well, father could have. Probably should have as well. Alfred received a care package with a shirt, boots, a letter from Martha and a 50 cent stamp. A penny less that we pay for first class! It breaks my heart to read, "I found a lead pencil in my shirt (the one I am now writing with) and a box of pepper. The pencil that I had is most used up and this one came handy and the pepper also for Gus had his in his haversack and I had rather be with out most anything else than pepper." Alfred liked" cayanne tea." His loving mother often sent goodies. 

Stanford Ky
May 31, 1863

Father & Mother,

"I received your letter yesterday morning with the cloves in it." Ground cloves? 

Ha! Those 20 mince pies remind me of the 54 moon pies I boxed and sent to Nephew II! Did I ever tell you what happened? Well, he wasn't given hard labor for what his aunt did. He wasn't laughed out of the Corps. And no one made him eat the lot. Everyone was allowed to eat a moon pie. *grin*

Okay. So, yes, Alfred wrote about the weather. Imagine that! Letters from home and stamps were almost as important as food, boots, shirts, and ammo. Their diet was . . . I think some of the casualties of war stemmed from a poor diet. No army fights well on hard tack and molasses! And, what of the soldiers who could not read or write? I often read a good letter more than once. Maybe they memorized what their fellow soldiers . . . I wonder if it's better or worse today, seeing as how too many in our military do not get mail because writing has fallen before the might of e-mail and FaceTime. I wish I'd saved the letters my father wrote to me from overseas. I wonder if he kept any of mine? 

. . . to be continued