Thursday, July 17, 2014

On grief, loss, and missing Soda

Rainy Day Soda

Last week I broke the news that Soda, the cat of my heart, was gone. (Today I lost the best cat who ever lived.) Above is one of the last decent photos of her I took, or at least one of the last ones I really love, from late May. Here on this blog I usually posted photos of her on my writing desk or with stationery, but of course she was all over the place so I'm going to share a few of those views now.

Friends, I am grieving very, very hard. I knew I would be devastated when I lost Soda - I have loved all my cats, but she was just that extra-special one, the one who followed me around like a puppy and was my closest furry companion - and indeed I am a wreck. I keep thinking she should be there. Why is she gone? I keep seeing her out of the corner of my eye. I miss her terribly, achingly, constantly. In less conscious moments, I forget she is gone and then I remember. I expect her to be at the door to greet me when I come home. I expect to see her sleeping in her favorite spots.

Backtalk Soda

I expect to hear her meowing! She was an excessively vocal cat, and the apartment is so silent now without her (okay, occasionally very obnoxious) sounds.

One of the very hardest places for me is, in fact, my writing desk. Soda loved to be on my writing desk with me, sprawled out across whatever letter I was trying to read or write. As often as not, whenever I settled myself there, Soda would hop up and join me. I am so touched by the letters of condolence I have received from pen pals who didn't even know her, and I find tears running down my face as I read them at my writing desk and feel Soda's absence most poignantly.

Magic on her scratcher

Last week we had a very rough patch with our remaining beloved cat, Magic. Magic and Soda were not littermates, but I got them as kittens within weeks of one another. Magic came first, by just a couple of weeks. Other than those first weeks, Magic and Soda were together for their entire lives, 17 years. Although they didn't sleep together in their adult years, they would occasionally lick each others' heads; if not the best of buddies, at least the only other cat companions they had known (besides dear wonderful Memo, who was with them from 2001-2011). Who can say whether or not a cat grieves, but Magic did not show much interest in food, water, or the litterbox for a week or so, and was very mopey. She is coming back into herself and showing a bit more liveliness now, which cheers us greatly also.

Soda letter seal

I guess this post doesn't have much to do with letters or mail, and I hope you can forgive me that -- and bear with me as I am pretty low on the mail output (and pretty low in general). I do still have a lot of photo stickers, and a few photo stamps, with Soda's image, and I'm using them in her memory now. I miss my best Feline Postal Brigadier, and grief is a slow and heavy process. Thanks for bearing with me as I share that with you.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Today I lost the best cat who ever lived

Soda oversees another letter
Soda P. Katt
April 1997-July 7, 2014
My best cat, kitty of my heart, rest in peace

I still cannot believe this has happened, but today we had to put down my most amazing, best beloved cat Soda. She was fine yesterday morning, but yesterday afternoon she started a very quick and heart-rending deterioration. It was most likely a blood clot or a tumor. Yesterday afternoon she could not move her hind legs, and by early this morning she could only move her head. She was also clearly suffering, so we made that awful, final decision to end her pain.

Soda was with me for all of her 17 years, since she was a tiny kitten. I cannot believe my constant feline companion is gone. Longtime blog readers will know that Soda was a mail cat extraordinare, charter member of the Feline Postal Brigade, and a frequent "helper" with my letter-writing. I wanted to share this news of her passing with you all, with a plea for understanding that I am absolutely devastated and may lay low from letters and blogging for a while.

A very kind relative asked about donations in Soda's name; I will say that she came to me from the Gifford Cat Shelter, which is a truly wonderful no-kill cat shelter (or, as they say, "sheltering home for cats") that I support wholeheartedly. If you are one of those wonderful souls who is moved to make a donation in her memory, that would be the place both she and I support.

We are down to one cat - the ever shy and retiring Magic, who, while not much of a mail cat, is still a wonderful kitty and a great comfort. (Here's the irony: Magic is the one with health problems; we expected to lose her long before Soda.) She is sad along with us today; while she and Soda were not littermates, they were they same age and spent all but their first weeks of life together. Now I am off to cuddle Magic... please love and appreciate your pets (and all loved ones!) while you have them. You never know when you may lose them.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Postcard Happiness Project: send a postcard, make someone's day

I just learned about a sweet little project that I think my blog readers will love: The Postcard Happiness Project. Here's how they sum it up:
The postcard happiness project is a free initiative that enables us to send postcards to others who could benefit from a little postal kindness. This page is about potential happiness. It’s not meant to make you sad about challenging times. It’s designed to lift your spirits in the knowledge that there’s something small and inexpensive that you can do to lift a stranger’s spirits in a big way somewhere out there.
This is not for people looking for pen pals, it's for those of us who are stalwart senders, who just love to send mail anywhere, everywhere, without thought for a response.

On the Postcard Happiness blog, they post names and stories of people of all ages who need some encouragement. They could be depressed. They could be fighting cancer. They could be bedridden. They could have just suffered an assault. But they all need some brightness in their day, and you can send it in the form of a postcard.

No registration is required, and you can send as many or as few postcards as you'd like. The only cost is the postcard and the stamp. If you love to send mail, and it makes you feel good to make others feel good, go check it out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Meeting a pen pal + mobile Letterpress

Pen pals meet!

So you may have seen my recent post about Alex Myers's reading in Brooklyn last Friday. It was a fantastic reading and a great trip, made even more special because I got to meet a pen pal ALL THE WAY FROM NEW ZEALAND! The lovely Erin Fae is in NYC for the summer to work on The Press Cycle Project: Letterpress on Three Wheels, an amazing traveling letterpress project to bring this special paperful joy to the masses.

Erin braved utterly torrential rain to make it to the reading - we were all half soaked, joking that we had swum there - and Alex took this photo of the two of us after the reading. I wish we had taken more, I wish I could have brought my awesome Letter Writers Alliance bag but I was afraid it would get soaked, I wish the photo of me were better... it is a testament of my love and appreciation for Erin that I post this photo in the first place, because I think she looks gorgeous and I am not so pleased with the photo of myself. BUT! Cross-continental pen pal meetings must be lauded as much as possible, and documented properly. So, voila!

I would also like to share with you Erin's fabulous Press Cycle Project, because even if you are not in NYC, you can still share the joy. (And if you ARE in NYC - may you encounter one of her magical spontaneous cycle-powered printings!) You can read more about it on her Kickstarter page, plus watch the cool studio, but here's the gist: she's building a mobile studio to teach people about letterpress printing, and will make prints on the go. I am a backer, and if you're a letterpress or paper lover (and really, if you're not - why are you reading this?), I'd encourage you to consider supporting her special endeavor... or at the very least, keep up to date on the project via @PressCycle on Twitter.

Her project only has 3 days left on Kickstarter, so don't wait - do it now!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Postcrossing stamp from Belarus

Postcrossing stamp from Belarus

I am so delighted by all the countries worldwide that have started producing postage stamps themed to Postcrossing -- and even more delighted when I receive them!

The latest offering, shown above, is from Belarus, and I am a big fan. I like the cheery letters and bright graphics, and especially the "Happy Postcrossing" wish that so many Postcrossers share with each other on our postcards.

So far I've received other Postcrossing stamps from the Netherlands (which somehow I've never blogged about before!) and Finland... so far, the one from Belarus is my favorite!

Hmm... what do we have to do to get a Postcrossing stamp here in the USA? Something tells me that's not too likely, but perhaps I'm just a pessimist.

Monday, June 9, 2014

In NYC on Friday 6/13?

Are you in or near New York City this weekend? Got no plans for Friday the 13th yet? Then I have a marvelous suggestion for you! My best beloved Alex Myers is reading from his wonderful new novel, Revolutionary at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn. The event is free and open to the public. He'll read from the book and answer questions, and I'll be there enjoying the event, too. Afterwards, along with a book signing, there is a reception with "colonial cocktails." Not sure what that means, but I'm looking forward to giving them a try! If you come by, please do make sure to say hello!

Alex Myers author talk at Old Stone House in Brooklyn, NY - 7pm on Friday, June 13

I promise, a mail-related post is indeed coming soon...

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Essay by Alex Myers on Salon.com this week

alex & ilona

This week my best beloved and husband of 11 years, Alex Myers, had a personal essay published on Salon.com, and it's about the two of us and how we fell in love. It's a touching love story, I am honored to be featured in his writing, and because it does mention letter-writing (!), I just had to share it here. Read the essay here: “Are you a boy or a girl?”: Our trans-bisexual love story. The article used the photo of us shown above, taken at the wedding of friends in September 2012. It's a very personal story, but I am happy to share it, and so proud of the journey Alex and I have taken together.

In other news, if you are in or near New York City and want to hear Alex read from his wonderful new novel, Revolutionary, you can come by the Old Stone House in Brooklyn on Friday, June 13 for an author talk. He'll give a reading and answer questions, and I'll be there enjoying the event, too.

Happy summer, and happy summer letter writing!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

3D dinosaur stamp from South Africa

South Africa 3D dinosaur stamp

Yesterday I received a Postcrossing postcard from South Africa with this AWESOME stamp! I grant you I don't get too much mail from South Africa, so all their stamps are pretty novel to me, but I just had to share this one. It is a dinosaur skeleton displayed in 3D! I wish I had 3D glasses to appreciate it properly. (Where does one find cheap 3D glasses these days, anyway? Like under 5 bucks? I'd buy 'em just to dig this stamp!)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Back in stock: I jump for joy over snail mail!

Jump for joy over snail mail postcard 2

After being sold out of this postcard for over a year, I finally have it back in stock in my etsy shop.

"I jump for joy over snail mail!"

Does a good letter bring you joy? Do you jump up and down with excitement when you pull promising snail mail out of your mail box? Okay, maybe there aren't too many of us who are THAT geeky over mail, but you can show your love of good old fashioned snail mail with this vintage graphic of a girl dancing on a snail. What's not to love?

Along with "I jump for joy over snail mail!", I also have 10 other postcard designs for the postal enthusiast.

May your weekend be filled with good mail!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

An update on "Revolutionary" - thank you for your support!

Revolutionary by Alex Myers, at Politics & Prose

If you've been following this blog for more than a month or two, you know that my best beloved and husband of 11 years, Alex Myers, is an author whose first novel, Revolutionary, was just published by Simon & Schuster in January 2014. I've blogged about it frequently (see posts tagged "Revolutionary"), and then I tried not to crow about it constantly because that becomes tiresome when this blog is about letter-writing, no?

But two reasons have compelled me to share an update:
1. Many of you have been kind enough to ask how the book is doing, and
2. The support from my pen pals and blog readers has been overwhelming, and I want to share my gratitude.

Alex Myers at Politics & Prose, 26 Jan 2013

So let's tackle the updates first. Alex has been doing readings all over the country, to some great audiences. Above, he's shown at the first reading here in Washington, DC, at the fine Politics & Prose bookstore. The book has gotten some very positive press as well, so I just have to share that briefly, too:


There has been more good media coverage including some some radio interviews, and if you're interested in delving deeper, you can find all of that on his website.

Alex Myers at Harvard Bookstore, 31 Jan 2014

Alex also spoke at the excellent Harvard Book Store on January 31 - shown above. (I don't know if you can make it out in this photo size, but he's standing in front of a rack showing stationery supplies: pens and notebooks. I just had to point that out to you, my dear blog readers.) An extra-cool feature of the Harvard Book Store talk is that they recorded it all on video, so if you are interested in seeing Alex read from and talk about the book, check out this video! You can see his wit and charm in action.

And finally, last but possibly most importantly, I owe a debt of gratitude to all of my wonderful blog readers and pen pals who have bought the book, read the book, talked about the book, tweeted about the book, blogged about the book, and generally supported it in innumerable ways! Let me share just a few out there in the blogosphere that you can enjoy, too:

Ambrosia Jefferson wrote a fine review on her blog (and great reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, too!), and her reviews were among the first out there. Thank you, Ambrosia!

Cathy Stewart, the fantastic force behind some fantastic mail, is holding a book club discussion on Revolutionary on her fine blog for independents, Politics 4 the People. She's posted heavily about it there, and another fine pen pal and mail blogger, Postmuse of the Orphaned Postcard Project, wrote An epistolary review of Revolutionary on Cathy's blog. Thank you to Cathy and Bonnie Jeanne! I am sure the Politics 4 the People phone-in book group discussion this coming Sunday is going to be marvelous, and I look forward to overhearing Alex's end of it from here in our apartment.

And thanks to all the readers and writers who are continuing to buy, read, tweet about, and talk up the book. Did you blog about it and I missed your post (or missed acknowledging it)? Let me know in the comments or in an email!

If you're interested in hearing Alex speak or checking out his other writing and activities, do follow him on Facebook; he announces his readings and speaking engagements there, and here's some exciting breaking news: Alex will be sharing some speaking engagements in the future with Erin Lindsay McCabe, author of I Shall Be Near To You.

Finally, I will just note that Revolutionary is available in hardcover and ebook from bookstores in North America and online retailers like Amazon and others.

Thanks for your patience with my long post about my dearly beloved's book, and happy reading and writing to all!