Monday, August 31, 2020

From Chuck to Shannon

This one looks really nice with all the hangy-down parts and no ascenders. 
It gives a nice overall shape to the name. 


The short blurb above was written a while back.
It takes a lot of patience to outline in a second color and keep it even.

Shout out to everyone who is stressed, weary, worried, weathering storms/sickness/etc.

I do not have any suggestions for how to cope -- I'm just shouting out.
I like that expression - shout out.
It wasn't around when I was a kid and I have no idea where it came from.

Obviously we have Google.
One moment please.
This is what I found - just the first hit -- I don't have time to do further research.

The origin is not the 1993 2Pac song. Rather the phrase was popularized after the 1991 release of the single “Born and Raised in Compton” by DJ Quik. At the end of the song, Quik says “and right about now, I'd like to send a shout out to my boy Teddy Bear . . .” and then mentions a bunch of others.

So, maybe that's the true origin.

As, I said, I do not have any suggestions for how to cope. We're not all in the exact same boat - but I think we're in the same flotilla. I always liked that word flotilla. It reminds me of flotsam.

Last update from Chuck: still no cable or internet.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Aug exchange from RachaelT

 As you may recall, in August I tossed out the option to use the celebrate stamp because I love dots and because Chuck had thought of a very clever way to use square dots. The range of inspiration that arrived in my mailbox was the best part of the month. There are still a few left to arrive - and I refrain from having favorites. However, there are so many fun one, I am going to bump a few previously scheduled posts because it seems like we could all use some fun.

This one from RachaelT is so clever - to take the dots and use them in stylized flowers. Most of us use white envelopes - but it was nice to realize that this is a perfect stamp for almost any color. It will be so helpful on my quest to use up my orphan envelopes.

While the address is clear and easy to read -- I might not steal this idea until Jan 2021 - when things might have settled down. Maybe there is a way to dangle the flowers from the top of the envelope?

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Easy for the PO scanners

This envelope caught my eye on Instagram (for the layout, not the lettering). I took a screen shot, so you can go to the person's IG account. I didn't see much mail art - but this one works for our plan to make our exchange envelopes easy for the PO scanners to read. I hope that jorosie doesn't mind if I make some observations about her lettering. Her E has a quirk that has always perplexed me. The center cross bar on the E is shorter. Same thing on the F. Where did that come from? I used to see it all the time when I taught. I remember being 4 years old and making the crossbars on my little black board - and then doing two vertical erasures - to insure that the crossbars were equal - and then I would add the vertical stroke.

Maybe it's because there are some Es with serifs where the center crossbar needs to be shorter.

I could nitpick at some more letters - but will restrain myself because we need the update on Chuck. There was so much in the news about how bad Cedar Rapids and Marshalltown were hit by the derecho that I forgot to check in with Chuck in Newton. It's only a half hour from Des Moines. He was without power for a week - and was still waiting for internet and cable to be restored last time we emailed. And our California exchangers are suffering through fires and heatwaves again. And I'm guessing it's hot everywhere. 


Listing all the hardships isn't a very good way for us to take a moment to distract ourselves.

And my alternatives tend to be plague, ticks, and mosquitos. I'll be working on some better distractions. Maybe ranting about somebody's capital E's is a *good* distraction. If you are the person who made that envelope, I hope we have not hurt your feelings. You have provided a lovely layout idea. I don't like to critique the work of the exchangers. Although we have an issue with some lowercase r's that I am going to bring up. Brace yourselves. Do you already know who you are? 

Friday, August 28, 2020

From Chuck to Mary Alice

Today (June 20, 2020) I have about 40 days to fill and then all the posts for 2020 will be scheduled.
I have about 30 from Chuck and about that many from Leslie - so I will switch back and forth between the two of them until the year is full.

I might switch things around later.
It will depend on where I am. I've decided to spend some time in Chicago to help my daughter with her kids. So, I figured I'd just fill up the blog for the rest of the year.

I will be able to drop in and edit posts, but, I'm not sure how I would add photos of envelopes.
So, here we go.
And I'm warning you -- the words might be really lame - because I am going to do 40 in one day.
I'm already struggling with how this one is going.

I'm laughing - on Aug 18th - as I see what I wrote two months ago.
I still have 40 days to fill. Either I can't count or I became distracted right after I posted this one.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

From Inta in May

Once again, I love Inta's penmanship. I can't tell if she found the paper or created the design - either way it is lots of fun. I like the juxtaposition of the black and white envelope and then the full color card inside. The stickers are puffy and the border is washi tape. I still do not have any washi tape. It's fun stuff.
There is more of it on the envelope.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

From Maggie to Lynne

I'm 99% sure this is from Maggie. I've been asking people to send me images of the mail they send out since I have been on hiatus from doing my own envelopes. When they arrive, I park them in downloads and forget to insert an identifying name. This is useless information.

As I write this on June 19, I ponder where I will be on Aug 26. 
Wherever I am, I will remind myself to do a search for *Maggie* and see how many envelopes pop up. Maggie was one of the first *regulars* to join the exchange as it was ramping up. There are probably a ton of envelopes - and this one made me wonder if all of her envelopes are pointed pen? No reason behind my wondering -- just curious.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Blogger has pulled the rug out from under me

It is too complicated to explain -- and I don't know what I am going to do -- but in the meantime, I need to post something - to see if I can figure it out. Also, Blogger will not allow any kind of paragraph spacing which is weird. So -- here's my story. I ordered some Sugru - an amazing moldable putty/glue that hardens. The package did not arrive even though the tracking no. said it had been delivered. I talked to my carrier - a fairly new guy who I have been trying to befriend. He was very nice and told me yesterday that he would look for it and -voila- he found it at a house across the street -- who for some reason decided to wait a week before putting it out. Plus they know me -- so not sure why they would not have brought it over. Anyhow, my carrier wrote a nice note on the pkg. Sorry this is not an aesthetically pleasing image. Working on my technical difficulties. Today's regular post is below.

The Far Side - Blogger issues - Bonus Post

Scroll down for today's regular post. I am having trouble getting into the posts to edit them. So this is mostly a technical test - but the cartoon is timely. I want to see if this link works You will have to copy and paste - because Blogger is not letting me put in a link This is what you should see if you copy and paste:

From Sam to Stacey

Here is a good example of the flag stamp being the right stamp for the job.
Nothing says USA like a Harley.

Sam often put fun details on the flip side of her envelopes.

Monday, August 24, 2020

From KateR in Feb&May&June

If you look closely, you can see the darker cancel is 11 Feb 2020 from Seattle and then the lighter cancel is 21 May 2020 from Des Moines. I wonder what kind of adventure this one has been on.
I am writing this on June 18 - the day it arrived.
I'm so curious -- but there is no way to know where it has been.
Now that I have my little insider at the PO -- I have so much confirmation that they are all obsessed with just getting everything where it's really supposed to go. 
Lots of people do not think that is the case --- 
but from what I hear, a lot of them are seriously into prompt delivery

While it has a lot of valentine flavor - hearts are welcome all year.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

From Sam to Amy



Really nice colors.

And notice the curve of the pie repeats an implied curve in the design of the stamp.
Little things like that are so nice.

It's pie season.

Peach pie.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

From Sam to Amy

I'm pretty sure Sam told me what it meant that the bird had sliced off the nose and it is probably in an email that is tucked in the Sam folder - but - sadly - I am not going to have time to organize that file. Maybe next year.

I really like Sam's design sense. That stamp is so perfect on this envelope.
She and I had some conversations about penmanship and I have no way of knowing when this was done in relation to the conversations -- but, I do feel that she appreciated my comments and fixed some of her quirks. I'm sure she would not mind that I point to one to the quirks that is easy to fix.

Look at that D in Candiotti -- it droops.
The widest part should be high or centered - but not low.
When it is low, it looks droopy.
Although, there are times when you want droopy - but those are exceptions.

Aug 19 - P.S.
I just want to thank the people who have sent mail - both exchange mail and non-exchange. It is wonderful get mail - and in a perfect world, I would write thank you the minute they arrived.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Sam's mail from France

So --- I have this random envelope that Sam sent a long time ago. It was a favorite of hers. I put it in a folder of mail that is going to appear on the blog.
I like the gradation in the color on that row of stamps.
I wonder why the H is different. It's a nice touch.

As I mention from time to time, my filing system is abysmal.
So, I am going to go through the folder of mail that is mostly by Sam and Leslie and we shall see how far it takes us.

As mentioned, I am trying to fill the whole year - just to tidy up my desk. While this blog started as a place for my mail art -- it has morphed into a blog with mail art by other people and so far -- not a single complaint. So, here we go.

Aug 19 - P.S.
The bubonic plague is back in the news.
You've probably been happy that I did not stay on that binge for very long.
Of course this one is pretty close to where my son lives - South Lake Tahoe is 30 miles from where he lives. I've been there. It's gorgeous. Currently, they are experiencing smoke from the forest fires.
What next?

I do not recall if I mentioned what the clever people of Milan did do *contain* the plague. If they discovered that someone in a household had the plague, they boarded up the house - vigorously - so that the people could not escape and just let all of them die. I think it was Milan. It's been quite a while since I watched that series. 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

From GraceE - in August

Because of all the stuff going on with the post office - I am going to ask everyone to put a very legible address on envelopes for the Sept thru Dec exchanges. GraceE's Aug envelope is a perfect example of how the name can be very creative - and the address is very clear. I know that the PO is not interested in the name - they really only look at the address. So -- put all your creativity into the names.

I am also recommending you keep the space below the address clear. 
At least a half-inch -- for the bar code.

I made a vow that I would not go back and redo any of the posts that are scheduled - but, I will replace a few of them -- or I will go in and remind everyone to back off on the challenging penmanship and any kind of design that makes the address hard to read.
This will be a good opportunity to work on our beautiful block lettering.

If this request is rubbing you the wrong way, feel free to ignore me.
It's not like I can control what you do.
But, I am asking politely -- that we give the PO a break --
and maybe by January of 2021 -- things will have simmered down.

Remember, I am sitting here in the aftermath of a the derecho - the hideous storm that is as intense as a tornado and as wide as a hurricane. My personal situation is resolved, but I have neighbors who still have entire trees laying across their driveways and there are neighboring communities that have been devastated. 

So-- let's be kind to the PO for the last 4 months of this bizarre year.
I will be posting some fun tips on how to combine wildly creative names with clear addresses.
Don't worry about your August envelopes.
If you already had a wild and crazy idea -- go ahead.
I will not complain or post your envelope and scold you.

If you think this is a bad idea - let me know.
I'm always up for a spirited debate.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

From Smash in May - Post Office topic

I am vigilant about staying away from political topics - 
but I've decided to talk about the post office.

The postcard from SMash arrived in May. In June, I wrote the following blurb.

I'm the last person anyone should listen to about current events - and I am on board with all of us buying stamps and supporting the PO -- but, I do want to reassure anyone who thinks that there is truly any danger of the PO going under to stop and think about it. The PO is an integral part of everyday life. Obviously there is a lot of posturing. Alarming statements are being made, but we do not need to panic. Common sense is going to kick in at some point. 
The postal service is not optional. It's as essential as any of the essentials.
So there.


It is now Aug 17 as I write this and I only have one thing to add.
 I saw somewhere and I fact checked the numbers. Hopefully I found factual facts.

The USPS delivers 1.3-billion holiday cards in December
so they can probably handle 130-million ballots in November

I'm terrible at math when there are more than three zeros -- but I think that makes the holiday mail 100-times more than the ballots. Is that right? Even if it is only 10-times more -- that would be very impressive


Tomorrow we are going to talk about my current thoughts on the exchange.
Stay tuned.

Here are a couple op-eds that do a good job of expanding on my perspective.
Although I am not sure how many articles you can read for free at the NYTimes.
I get it for free through my public library. If you have a library card, you might check out all the free stuff you can read online through your library. If you get RBDigital - you have access to a ton of magazines. 

I'm adding the top one - after I numbered the other two - it is by someone who has worked with the PO so might have more credibility than people who just have opinions.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

From Lauren in May

That extra cancel in the lower left corner is rather fun with the overall design.
It's not like the envelope needed it - but there is something charming about little extras from the PO that don't make any sense. It's like some validation that they like us and want to be included in the party.

Mr. Wilson was wowed by the way Jean was vertical.
His comments are always 1/2 interesting and 1/2 clueless.

The card is really pretty, eh?
I really appreciate when card makers include cards - because I do not make cards
but I certainly enjoy receiving them.

The *color test* I was trying to recall is the Luscher color test.
You may find many different variations of it on Google.
I tried a couple of them and the observations they dispense seem like expanded versions of astrology blurbs. You can read both *good and bad* into what they say - so, I am not recommending it - unless you are curious and have time to kill. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Simon Garfield and JeanR

This is a real time post - written on Sunday (yesterday) - because I found something I wanted to share and obviously I need to post an image. So, I quickly photographed one of my August exchange envelopes. It is from JeanR and of course, I love anything done with those Bister inks - so I loved the envelope. 

Then I opened it -- and Oh, WOW. I love the flowers - and more pretty lettering inside.

Here's the part about Simon Garfield.
I have multiple little stacks and folders full of handwritten notes to myself. I've been typing them into *the cloud* so that they are somewhere other than in piles and files. One pile included a list of a dozen books and when I got to this one - Mauve: How one man invented a color and change the world. I stopped to Google it and see if it was still available. It is. So, I checked to see if my library has a copy. They do not - but HOLY COW -- look at the other books that Simon Garfield has written. Now I have to Google him -- he must be wildly interesting, eh?

To the letter: a celebration of the lost art of letter writing

On the map: a mind-expanding exploration of the way the world looks

Just my type: a book about fonts

The error world: an affair with stamps


In miniature: how small things illuminate the world

I was surprised he did not have a clever subtitle for the timekeeper book.
Also, right below that list was another book that looks interesting:

The secret lives of color - by Kassia St. Clair

That one reminded me of a book I had many years ago that had 8 or 10 colored cards. People were asked to put them in the order of favorite to least favorite - and then the book would give an opinion about your personality or state of mind. Now I have to go look for that book. It was a little silly. If you liked black, it would suggest that you were unhappy or depressed about something. My artist friends (especially the print makers) agreed that a love of black is not alarming. 

Holy cow again.
Simon has lots more books.

Tomorrow I will add info about the color / frame of mind test.
I found it.


Sunday, August 16, 2020

HELP!!! How are we going to remember this?

 I guess we could write it on a calendar. I'm referring to the PBS program after the unrelated artwork.

Or, I could schedule posts on the blog to pop up and remind us.

This post is just a reminder to me - when I see it on Sunday - to set up some re-posts.

Scroll down to today's regular post.

Something I saw on Pinterest - and copied - for fun.
My apologies for not giving credit to the source.
It has a DuBosch Jubilee flavor to it.

Story of the Alphabet and Writing on NOVA/PBS 
From: John Neal
Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2020 04:32:45 PDT 

Episode One: The First Alphabet 

September 23, 9:00pm EST

 Episode Two: How Writing Changed the World

September 30, 9:00pm EST


Directed by David Sington and designed by Brody Neuenschwander  


This series has been 12 years in the making and 4 years in the filming and editing.  The first program investigates the origins of writing, seen globally. Writing was invented four times and in four places: Egypt, Sumer, China and Central America.  In each case the same steps were followed, which leads one to ask important questions about the very nature of writing.  But the alphabet was invented only once, and from this single origin spread around the world. In this program stunning footage from Australia, Egypt, China and Europe will show how hieroglyphs and cuneiform were first created and how they function in a very similar way to Chinese and Maya script. The leap to the creation of the first alphabet came in a surprising way and in an unexpected place: the wastes of the Sinai desert.  As this alphabet spread and evolved, it replaced pictographic systems everywhere except China, Japan and Korea.  In so doing, the alphabet changed the course of history.


The second program looks at the materiality of writing and the differences between the world's three major writing systems: the Latin alphabet, Arabic and Chinese. How do these systems function and how are they different?  How did these differences influence the history of each culture? And what part did different writing materials play in the development of written communication (papyrus, parchment, paper)?  The influence of all these factors on the development of printing will be shown, helping us to understand how the shapes of letters can have an immense impact on the history of whole societies.


There is a third program on "script and identity" that will not be shown in this series, but will appear later online. The manipulation of script for political purposes will be investigated, as will fascinating questions such as "how do the Chinese adapt their script to digital technology?" and "how do young people in the Arab world send text messages?"


For those of you who love the sculptural elegance of Egyptian hieroglyphs, the grace of the Chinese brush in action, the brilliance of medieval manuscripts sparkling with gold, this will be two hours of pure pleasure. And we guarantee: you will learn some things you never knew or even thought about!



From Janet in May

This is clever. Hot peppers and a dragon.
Be sure to notice the white highlights. 
IMHO whenever you have colors on a colored paper, you need a touch of white. 
It adds some magical sparkle.
And it makes me want to dig out some colored envelopes.

Blogger changed some stuff - so I can't find how many posts I have lined up
so that I can calculate how many I have left to do.
It's mid June as I write this.
I'll have grandkids for 2 weeks and then I might go spend 6 weeks in Chicago.
I'll be curious to see what's actually going on when this blog post pops up.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

From GraceE in May

Hopefully GraceE is not annoyed with me for saying the same thing about each of her envelopes.
Once again ... isn't this gorgeous pointed pen work?
And lovely vintage stamps.
And thank you PO for not canceling it.

I just scheduled this to post on Aug 15th and for some reason it went straight to the blog. So it was up for 1 minute before I deleted it. This is useless information.
But, I am on a posting marathon -- and do not have time to think of a lot of clever stuff.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Bonus Post - Off topic - Doll house vignette

 Scroll down for today's regular post.

Sadly, I have been forgetting to look in my spam -- and there were several comments waiting for me to moderate. There were also some very spammy comments that reminded me why I have to go through the moderating process. I will try to do better at checking the spam daily because I appreciate comments and would like them to pop up promptly.

 Thank you to Eva for help with my spelling. Also, a couple people suggested we find the snail mail address of the author of the NYTimes article about the joy of actual letters - which is a good idea. Or perhaps, we should just send some mail to the NYTimes - pick an editor and ask them to forward the mail to someone who is looking for a topic.


And now, because I always have a photo with a blog post, here is something off topic. I need to start another blog for my off topics stuff - or consolidate my blogs - but it's just easier to deal with these photos here -- and then I can delete them from my phone so that I do not end up with 10,000 photos on my phone.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

By Jean Wilson

My daughter was not into making things so I missed out on making things with her when she was growing up. Happily, she has a daughter who is my clone and could make things all day. My daughter is happy to be learning how to make things with her daughter and is picking up all kinds of new skills. A little girl on their block had an adorable miniature vignette. Vignettes are like a doll house, only just one or two rooms. My daughter decided to order a kit and did not understand the difference between *small* and *tiny* and ended up with a kit that was very, very tiny. Luckily, I was going to be at their house for two weeks, so Alex (the granddaughter) and I started to work on the kit. 

She was a little peeved that she could not do the entire thing by herself, but every time I let her try something that was too hard for her, she handled it. Mostly, she applied glue using a straight pin which was seriously challenging. The instructions were translated from some other language and were skimpy. She can read - so it was helpful that she found the part that said the kit was recommended for people who were 16 years and older. Apparently, her mom did not read that.

And then --- there were the three electrical fixtures. The BigHelpfulBrother gave me a couple serious lessons via FaceTime and I was happy to get the electrical work done. We made a few little mistakes, but it mostly turned out perfectly. My daughter and son-in-law kept apologizing that I got stuck with the project - but I assured them that I truly loved the whole process. The only hard part was that sometimes the little helper would start inventorying the parts and then it was hard to sort them out. At the very end, I went through the instructions and tallied up how many parts there were -- and it was 285. That is a lot of parts.

My one regret was that I did not take photos of the items sitting on the tip of Alex's fingers to have a visual record of how tiny they were. And Alex was pretty upset that she did not have any dolls that were to scale.  We tried to find some online, but the dolls they sell for doll houses are very strange. I guess I will have to figure out how to make some.

I'm thinking we might need to build a complete doll house.....

The base is approx 4" x 6"

The bedroom loft over the living room - which has a ceiling fixture.

I put my wedding ring on the floor to show the scale of the slippers. The slippers were made of fabric, which I had to laminate to paper with glue. The pillows are just under 1/2" square and the directions were to glue the edges which made no sense. I could see no way of gluing the edges and still have them look like a pillow. So I put a bead of glue on the very edge of the fabric so that it would not fray and then stitched them by hand. I probably spent 1/2 hour on each pillow. And I have no idea how long the entire project took. Probably 20-30 hours.

More pillows.

The lighting isn't very good on the teacups. I had to form the wire handles by hand and then figure out how to glue the handle to the cup and also adhere a base.

The umbrella was really challenging. I saved it for last as I knew I would learn a lot on the other pieces. I did the chair cushions first and would have liked to redo them.

The birdhouse on the shelf was smaller than 1/4"x1/4"x1/4" - just cutting it out was challenging.

From Gina in May

Note to self, and anyone else who is looking to kill time:
Do a search on the blog for *cactus* and see how many pop up.
Cactus (or cacti?) are so design friendly. 
You can make anything fun just by making it roundy and green and then
adding prickles.

So cool.

And then -- the frosting in the envelope...

The prickles are 3D. Bits of thread.

Prickles isn't the right word, but I can't think of what the word is for the...
That doesn't seem right.
I'm on a posting binge, so will refrain from researching.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

From RachaelT in May

I remember when this one arrived.
I was sure I would be getting my white ink out.
Of course, that didn't happen. 
May and June were full of other stuff.
I believe it is blueprint paper.

If you want to go down a serious rabbit hole
go to dharma trading company 
and look at the videos for how to use the dye that is activated by the sun
I can't wait for my grandkids to be old enough.
Dharma has a ton of good info for serious dying.

Blue and white is one of my favorite color combinations.
I didn't even cringe at the stamp.

real time update
weather report
Des Moines (and many other places in the midwest) experienced a 
derecho storm on Monday.
It's like a dry land hurricane. Google or Wiki it for details.
I had never heard of it.
103 mph winds were recorded in Des Moines.
Our front yard was full of tree branches - big ones - and one of them totaled a car that was parked in front of our house.
above was written Wed am, scheduled for Thur am.
We were without power Mon and Tues and Wed was not looking good -- I had written irrelevant details
about life without constant access to my blog and email.
But, we are back to so called *normal* - so I did some editing.

During the early part of the power outage, I organized my 3 binders full of exemplars and found lots of things to share on the blog. So that was a welcome outcome to a natural disaster on top of a pandemic.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

From Patty and Chuck in May

I love floral designs on black backgrounds. 
Patty's flowery design is a nice riff on the stamp.

Chuck had one of the circus stamps. That was a wonderful set.
It seems like there was an article about the last of the circuses disbanding.
And that would have been a while back.
From time to time, there are lists that pop up that list all the things that boomers remember that are gone.
Like phones that were connected to the wall.
I bet there is a list growing - for the boomers' offspring
and circuses will be on the list - along with what else?

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

KathleenRH inspired by Naomi

Kathleen sent this after I posted an example and a link to Naomi Bulgher's Bulger's work.
I have no idea if I have spelled Naomi's name correctly. It is May 26th and I'm in a bit of a slump regarding details. Some days the big picture casts a bit of a cloud over things. 

I've taken a break from talking about the bubonic plague of 1347 - but I am still watching one or two episodes each day. All I have to share at the moment is this: 
people reacted differently to the sad reality of what was going on.
It is no different today.
I'll refrain from making any more comments.

Except this one:
I'm not crazy about that cancel.
But I am happy that it is confined to the top.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Kraft paper from Leslie, Sam and KateR

Some lovely folded pen work from Leslie.

From Sam. She told me that this one was not blogworthy - but I think it is - so I am sharing it. 
The one below is from KateR and then below that is the flip side of Sam's. The new Blogger format is super challenging. I have not figured out how to move photos around - so we will have to stick with our *embrace the chaos* mindset a while longer.

Sam's avoided the cancel altogether. 
Kate's stamp avoided the cancel - but then it has the crazy off-roading tracks on the bottom.

Sam sent her favorite stamps - and requested that I use them on an envelope to her.
I liked what I did - and enclosed it in another envelope to keep it pristine. As I did that - I thought - she probably won't like this. She probably likes the patina of an envelope that goes through the mail.

My intuition was correct. 
She liked the envelope, but wanted one that was actually mailed.
Somewhere in there -- I went to my local vintage stamp store and scored more of the quilt stamps. So, I never actually used the ones that she sent.
They have been hiding for quite some times
 -- so --
they will be going to her of these days
on an envelope.

Black-white-red is one of my favorite color combinations.
Such a nice combo on kraft paper.
Although the colors on Leslie's and Kate's are lovely.
I'm thinking you can't really go wrong with kraft paper, eh?

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Maggie's mail for the Del Matro gang

The BigHelpfulBrother (BHB) really liked this one and said he might even write a thank you. His plan was to use a crayon and write with his non-dominant hand. I have a feeling that he will not actually write any thank yous - so I will let everyone know how much he appreciated the mail.

--real time edit, even though I said I would not be doing them - but I had to add the link to the USPS article--- I deleted some chatter here, about the BHB's beard that had a recent anniversary

 <snip> There have been trims, so he does not look like ZZTop. Hmmmm. I wonder who he looks like. Why don't they have a website where we can plug in our photo and find out who we look like? Please let me know if this exists. I think one time the BHB was with a group of people at a comedy club and a comedian called him George Carlin. That was back in his pony tail days. I wonder if I have already posted the photo of me winning a prize for looking like Princess Leia.

Why -yes- I have: Put Princess Leia in the search box

Dang. I have only wasted half the day today and was getting so close to getting something done and now I have a really pressing topic. You are probably excited that I seem to be drifting away from the bubonic plague, eh?

Here is a wonderful article about the merchandise available at the USPS. I predict that the USPS will become the new coolest place of all. Youngsters will be excited about starting their careers.
The NYTimes limits the number of articles you can read for free. I must admit, I was very tempted to buy some t-shirts -- but so far, have resisted the temptation.

The rest of Maggie's lovely mailings.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

From Sam to someone + NYTimes article about letters

Here is another one from Sam. She was so generous to share photos of her work - even though it was not part of the exchange. There was a really pretty stamp with red lanterns a while back - but the eclipse works very well.

This is long -- but, I really enjoyed it -- and I will gladly remove it if the NYTimes tells me that it is not OK to repost it here. I've not read the fine print on their website. I have truly appreciated the letters that I have received during the lockdown.

Mourning the Letters That Will No Longer Be Written, and Remembering the Great Ones That Were

By Dwight Garner

Before the telephone wounded them and email administered the death blow, handwritten letters were useful: They let you know who the crazies were. A lunatic’s barbed wire script would lurch in circles across the page, like a fly with a missing wing. No longer. On Twitter and Gmail and Facebook and elsewhere, the justified left- and right-hand margins can temper a lot of brewing delirium.

That’s one reason I miss correspondence. A more essential reason is that, perhaps like you during these months under quarantine, I’ve rarely felt so isolated. I speak with my family and friends on the phone, but my heart is only two-thirds in it; I’m not a telephone person. I dislike Zoom even more. Is that really my walleyed gaze in the “Hollywood Squares” box on my laptop?

Last fall I moved out of New York City, for a year, to work on a book. The person I now see most often, besides my wife, is our cheerful and fiercely sun-tanned postal carrier, out on her rounds. I find her appearances on our side porch oddly moving. They’re a sign of normality, proof that government is still clicking on some of its old tracks. The Postal Service has come to mean more to many people during lockdown, and it’s incredible that the president wants to smash it.

Each day when the mail carrier arrives, I find myself longing for a surprise letter — a big, juicy one, in the way that, in the wonderful comedy “Bowfinger,” Steve Martin’s character longs for the delivery of a FedEx package (any FedEx package) to prove he is somebody. I do trade big, juicy emails with some people in my life, but receiving them isn’t quite the same as slitting open a letter, taking it to a big chair and settling in for the 20 minutes it takes to devour it.

If it’s been a long time since I’ve received a proper letter, I do visit them in captivity. Books of letters are among my favorite sorts of books, and during quarantine I’ve consumed my share. The best recent one is, without doubt, Ralph Ellison’s. His letters mix literary and social concerns with a real sense of a lived life — of food and sex and airplanes and dogs and missed trains. He really fills up his rucksack.

It’s hard to read letters as good as Ellison’s without considering how unlikely it is that we’ll ever get a similar book from Colson Whitehead or Hilary Mantel or Jesmyn Ward or Martin Baron or Samantha Power or Chris Ware or Dave Chappelle or Gabrielle Hamilton. There will be no (or vanishingly few) books of collected emails, and who would want them? The age of proper correspondence has ended, and there’s been no pan-ecumenical service to mourn its passing.

“My letters are my society,” the poet Donald Hall said in a Paris Review interview. “Letters are my cafe, my club, my city.” In his memoir “A Question of Freedom,” the poet Reginald Dwayne Betts wrote that, in prison, letters were called “kites” because they flew up and out.

What made a letter good? “Letters should aspire to the condition of talk,” Iris Murdoch wrote in one of her own. “Say first thing that comes into head.” This is harder to do in emails, which are less private. On cream-laid paper there is no “forward” button.

Jack Kerouac said he got the idea for the spontaneous style of “On the Road” from reading his friend Neal Cassady’s buzzing letters. In “The Vanity Fair Diaries,” Tina Brown wrote that, as an editor, she often advised novice writers to simply write a letter to her, to pour the story out.

Letters were so often sexy. “A correspondence is a kind of love affair,” Janet Malcolm wrote in “The Journalist and the Murderer.” When Lionel and Diana Trilling were courting in 1928, he wrote to her: “Often I want to make a big literary gesture to you, a superb piling up of the best and truest words I know.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne is said to have washed his hands before reading his wife’s letters, lest he sully them in the slightest way. Georgia O’Keeffe’s and Alfred Stieglitz’s letters are so steamy they will still burn your fingers. Her: “the kisses — the hotness — the wetness.” Him: “the hands — the mouth — & eyes.” Someone get these two a room, and some commas.

In her sex and food novel “Blue Skies, No Candy,” Gael Greene wrote: “I don’t remember Emma Bovary ever getting caught up in the seamy mechanics of cheating phone calls. Adultery must have been much more elegant before the telephone. A man had to dispatch an epistle. By messenger. On horseback.”

In the recently published correspondence between Albert Camus and one of his lovers, the actress Maria Casarès, we learn that on the day before his death in a car accident, Camus posted letters to three separate women arranging rendezvous.

Many letters, like many emails, began with an apology for a belated reply. There was an art to these regrets. One of the best came from S. J. Perelman, who wrote to a friend on March 16, 1945, “Your letter of December 22 has been hanging in the rafters like a haggis and is now of a ripeness to be answered.”

I like this almost as much as Lionel Trilling’s late response to a 1951 letter from Norman Podhoretz. Trilling explained that “nothing less than the totality of The Modern Situation, the whole of Democratic Culture, has kept me from writing to you.” Reader, if I owe you an email, ditto.

I miss Manhattan and, during quarantine, think of the ringing empty buildings. James Agee was a young staffer at Fortune magazine and working in the Chrysler Building in the summer of 1932 when he wrote to Father Flye, his mentor, about how good his phonograph sounded late at night.

“An empty skyscraper is just about an ideal place for it — with the volume it has,” Agee wrote. “Something attracts me very much about playing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony there — with all New York about 600 feet below you, and with that swell ode, taking in the whole earth, and with everyone on earth supposedly singing it; all that estranged them and all except joy and the whole common world-love and brotherhood idea forgotten.”

Good letters were often composed when an author was tiddly on gin or bourbon. “This has been written with the aid of whiskey as you doubtless guess,” Jean Rhys noted in one of her excellent and often testy letters. Samuel Beckett, an indefatigable letter writer, wrote in one that losing his dentures made eating difficult but, happily, didn’t impede his consumption of alcohol.

Sometimes these observations were darker. John Cheever wrote in his journals: “I can write myself a letter. Dear Myself, I am having a terrible time with the booze.”

I have written letters I have never sent. Philip Roth, in “Reading Myself and Others,” called the unsent letter “a flourishing subliterary genre with a long and moving history.”

Unwritten letters are yet another subgenre. A famous one is referred to in “Titanic,” the James Cameron movie. At the end, when Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are in the freezing water, barely clinging to life, he rallies, teeth chattering, for a heroic final joke.

“I don’t know about you,” he says, “but I intend to write a strongly-worded letter to the White Star Line about all this.”