Monday, August 22, 2016

Postcards from Taiwan

Postcards from Taiwan

I just got back from a trip to Taiwan! Of course the first thing I bought there was a big pile of postcards. These are cards in the Gotochi style, though they are from Taiwan and not Japan. They're thick and with unusual shapes all featuring local attractions or culture, done in a cartoon illustration style. I sent one to myself from Taipei on August 16, and it was waiting for me when I got my mail today! Hats off to you, Taiwan postal service. Also, holy cheap, Batman! Just about everything in Taiwan was reasonably priced or even inexpensive, coming from the USA, and the postage for this international postcard cost 11 NTD (New Taiwan Dollars). Guess how much that is in USD? As of this posting, 35 cents! Wow. I was able to send off a few postcards from Taipei, but it was mostly a work trip and I was busy most of the time, so I didn't get a whole lot of mail written or sent there. Also, mailboxes were a little hard to find in my area, so I carried a few postcards around for a number of days until I could finally mail them on Friday.

This Taiwan trip took up a lot of my mental energy this summer, preparing and planning for the trip (work trip - I did some guest teaching and gave a concert, so it was a lot more than just travel adventure!), and I guess I can offer that as an excuse for being so absent from this blog. We also spent the first couple months of the summer at our new house in Maine, which was idyllic but also busy. I did spend a lot of time actually *writing* mail instead of blogging about it, but we also did a lot of work on the house and I spent a ton of time in the gardens.

Garden in the mountains

YES! I have gardens again! I'm super excited about that, though it's challenging to be away from them for weeks or months at a time. The summer days flew by, as I spent hours in the garden with my hands in the dirt.

So right now I'm in a bit of location limbo... a week in Maine, a few days in NH, a week in Taiwan, a few days in NH, nearly a week in Maine, a few days in NH, a weekend in Maine... you get the picture. (Because I'm so back-and-forth, my etsy store will remain closed for a couple more weeks.) And then summer is over and I'm back to school crazy-ness. I've had all kinds of postal adventures in addition to travel adventures, and I'll try to catch up and get them blogged as best I can, but in the meantime... I hope everyone is having a fantastic, mail-filled summer!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Good mail place

Mountain Postcrossing view

I'm settling into summer mode, and getting back into the mail groove! I don't have an actual writing desk here, but I brought a stash of stationery, stamps, and postcards, and I did a lot of Postcrossing cards at this table recently. I think this is going to be my prime mail location ... except I keep getting distracted by the view! This Midwestern gal has become entranced by mountain-watching.

Yesterday I walked the 2 miles (and back) to our new PO Box to get the mail. It was a lovely walk, and it's nice to slow life down so that I can take the time to do this. You notice so much more on foot than you do in a car, and you get a much more intimate feel for the neighborhood. Sometime soon I'll have to take some photos of this sweet little post office.

The cats are settling in nicely to our new place as well, and Oberon also enjoys the light:

Evening garden with Oberon

And in other news, Missive Maven on Etsy has reopened, selling just postcards for the summer.

Happy Summer Mail Days!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Summer vacation: off to Maine

Maine mountain sunset

Here's the news I've been hinting at, and why I'm only selling postcards in my etsy shop for a while: we're heading up to Maine for the summer.

It's a quiet setting on a lake in Western Maine, near the White Mountains. (We can see them from the house, as shown in the photo!) I hope to have a lot of quiet, time, and space for practicing and mail-writing, bird-watching and swimming. It's been a crazy busy year, and I've neglected mail and many other aspects of life in order to give my best effort at grad school... but it's time for a break! We *do* have internet, so I should be able to blog and do Posctrossing and all my other favorite internet-based mail activities... but one of the things to which I'm looking most forward is writing letters while gazing at those mountains, and hearing the birds chirp.

Our mail will be forwarded, and we have a PO box in town. Speaking of that... we'll be in a very small town, not a populous area... and they know me at the PO already! It's a wonderful little post office and I predict some fun stories will come from my mail adventures there.

We're in the process of moving up there now (and taking the cats! Big changes for them!), so I may be laying low for a few days, but there are great things on the horizon.

What about you, blog readers? What do you do in the summertime, and do your mail habits change in the summer?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer update for etsy store: postcards only

Postman sticker

Happy June! I know it's not officially summer until the solstice, but June pretty much means summer to me. I've hinted at some changes afoot for summer... I will save the big reveal for a post coming in the next week or so, but for now, note the heads up:

Over the summer, I will be selling only original postcards in my etsy shop.

WWII V-mail stationery

If you want anything else - such as vintage V-mails, stickers, or vintage postage, buy it now or wait until late August...

I will be removing all options except the original postcards on this Saturday, June 4 - so make sure to buy them before then if you want them! Also on June 4, my etsy store will close briefly while we take care of some personal house business and I'll be unable to access my stock. It will reopen by the middle of next week.

More big news about summer fun coming soon...

Monday, May 16, 2016

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Practice room vs. writing desk

Practice room combo

I haven't written any letters in weeks. I haven't even sent any postcards. I've been in a practice room, often times the one pictured above. (No, I don't play the drum, but I wish I did!) It's been great work, lots of fruitful musical progress, but only music-related (and school-related) writing.

My semester is wrapping up, and I hope to put pen to paper - and new posts to blog! - later in May. I've got some exciting news to share about summer projects...

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Of postcards, music, and blog neglect

Cats and mail, recently sent postcards

Nothing new here: grad school is still taking up most of my time and energy. I love it. I spent 5 hours straight yesterday transcribing Miles Davis and Eric Dolphy solos (and was happy as a clam, despite - or perhaps because of - the extremely challenging nature of the work) for a class assignment. That would have been letter time, but... work first.

I have been sending a lot of postcards, though, both to friends and pen pals, and via Postcrossing. My 10 year anniversary with Postcrossing came and went last month (how is it April already??). I feel like a real old hand now.

I've got some other big things I'm juggling in my personal life right now, both joyful and very difficult, that are taking up a lot of time and emotional energy. I feel awful that I've neglected my beloved blog, but I thank the longtime readers for hanging in there and understanding. April is gonna be all kinds of crazy. Come mid-May, things will open up in my life again... and I hope for a summer of much letter-writing and blogging.

Monday, February 15, 2016

My 10-year Postcrossing Anniversary, and an etsy bargain


I write about Postcrossing a lot on this blog. (I recently received the lovely colorful cat illustration postcard shown above, DE-4784491, from Germany.) It's one of my favorite mail pastimes, and I've been Postcrossing far longer than I've had this blog. For a look through the years, you can check out all my posts tagged with Postcrossing. There are a ton of them.

I am really excited for an upcoming milestone: next month (March 2016) I will celebrate 10 years with Postcrossing. Wow! I wasn't active all the time -- there were definitely a few dormant years in there, and sometimes I send more than others -- but it is really fun to think about how long it's been in my life, and how many thousands of postcards I've exchanged. (As of this post, I've received 1599*, sent 1605, and have 16 traveling -- but those numbers are constantly changing!) I have lived in, and sent postcards from, 4 different states throughout my 10 years of Postcrossing participation.

To celebrate my 10-year anniversary, I'd like to offer a little unofficial discount in my etsy shop, where I sell, among other things, original designs of mail-themed postcards. If you order postcards in my shop, mention "Postcrossing" in the notes to seller section when you place your order, and I'll throw in an extra postcard . That's 6 postcards instead of 5, and I will do that for every postcard pack ordered (up to 5 postcard packs / extra postcards total). This offer is good from now through March 31, 2016.

Happy mailing, and happy Postcrossing!

*Update: a few hours after I originally wrote this post, I received Postcrossing postcard #1600. Woo-hoo!

Monday, February 8, 2016

2016: a year of great (space) stamps

I am extremely excited for the U.S. Postal Service stamp releases this year. There are some great stamps coming! Space and planets are a major theme, and there are three planetary releases: Views of our Planets, Pluto--Explored!, and The Moon global forever stamp. This article has more info about all three issues. I think the "Views of our Planets" stamps look particularly gorgeous and I can't wait to get my hands on them. Word on the street is that these will be released at the World Stamp Show in NYC somewhere between late May and early June.

Continuing the "space" theme, shown above are the stamps that so many of us are really geeking out about: Star Trek stamps! These stamps commemorate the 50th anniversary of the iconic TV show's premiere, and though I don't know the exact release date, it looks to be somewhere in the second half of the year. I'll have to get my eyes on them in person before I pass judgment, but I admit I have reservations about the design. What's with the grainy look? Oh well. I shouldn't quibble about Star Trek stamps, because it is a very fabulous idea.

I'm also a big fan of all the stamp releases that feature musicians... but I'm over the moon (ha! Space pun!) about the upcoming Sarah Vaughan stamps. Jazz singers are always close to my heart - I sing a lot of jazz myself, and there's so much to learn from any singer's individual style - but "Sassy" is in a class by herself.

Sarah Vaughan is not only one of my favorite jazz singers, but she's the one who made me first fall in love with jazz vocals back when I was in high school (and, at the time, singing only classical music). Her style, technique, and artistry are unparalleled, and I can't wait to buy up a TON of these gorgeous stamps to use on my letters. They'll be released on Mach 29, so we don't have too much longer to wait. Design thoughts: again, I'll wait to hold the inked paper in my hands, but this design idea gets a thumbs up from me. I think the artwork is lovely, and I appreciate the decision to use an illustration (a painting?) instead of a photograph. This really captures the mood of her style and her immersion in the music. I love that her eyes are closed, though I know not everyone will agree on that point.

There are more great stamps than I could even share here, and I highly recommend a look at the 2016 stamp release preview to see them all... but I'll just mention that the Pets and Jack-O-Lanterns also look very promising.

And I haven't forgotten about my promise to do a blog post about my new stamp organization system, which is working quite well so far. I have an unexpected snow day today (blizzard in Boston! the first flakes just started falling here in NH at about 11am) so maybe I'll manage some photos and some work on that. But for now, enjoy the stamp preview!