Saturday, January 3, 2015

Missive Maven round-up: 2014 in review

Outgoing mail, Dec 15

Happy 2015, readers and letter writers! A lot of momentous stuff happened in Missive-Maven-land in 2014. I just had fun perusing through some old blog posts, and thought I'd share some of the year's highlights here. (The photo above shows some of the mail I wrote for the Letter Writers Alliance virtual social on December 13, which was an absolute blast!)

Revolutionary, in boxes

One of the most exciting events of 2014 was personal in our family, but I blogged about it a fair bit: the January 2014 publication of "Revolutionary," my best beloved Alex Myers' first novel. It is "a fascinating retelling of the story of America’s first female soldier, Deborah Samson Gannett, who ran away from home in 1782, successfully disguised herself as a man, and fought valiantly in the Revolutionary War." The novel does have a significant epistolary element, so it does fit into the letter-writing theme of my blog! After the release of the novel, Alex did quite a bit of speaking and book touring, and in a later blog post, I gave an update on some excellent press and thanked you all for your support. On another note, "Revolutionary" will be released in paperback later this month, on January 20, 2015.

Sleepy Magic, Sleepy Soda

There was much heartbreak in the summer of 2014, when we lost our deeply beloved 17-year-old cats, Soda and Magic, within roughly two weeks of each other.

In Memory of Soda: April 1997 - July 7, 2014

In Memory of Magic: March 1997 - July 25, 2014

The move from Rhode Island to DC was a very difficult one for them, but they lived good lives of joy and mostly good health, and I'm so thankful for all the years we shared.

Oberon and Stella on the couch, New Year's Eve

We could not live without cats, and later that summer we adopted two kittens who we named Oberon and Stella. They brought us much joy in our grief, and it has been sweet beyond words to watch them grow up. The photo above was taken on New Year's Eve 2014, where Stella and Oberon and I spent a lot of time hanging out on the couch together. (Truthfully, Stella and Oberon spend a lot of time hanging out on the couch together in general, with or without me.) They are now 9 months old, but still very much acting like kittens!

Oberon likes my stationery shelves

And now back to more blog-appropriate news. I completed a project I'd been meaning to do for a long time: adding a page to my blog called Stationery Sources. I'm often asked where I buy my stationery, and this page lists links to all my favorite vendors, and each link has a little blurb about why I like their wares.

Melissa teaches us about envelope-making

Another wonderful mail milestone in 2014: I finally went to a mail social! I wrote a huge blog post about The October Mail Social Club at the National Postal Museum, which took place on World Post Day! These Mail Social Club events are coordinated by Melissa of Craftgasm (pictured above, showing us how to make handmade envelopes), and she does a really fine job with these events. I hope to attend at least one more in 2015! If you are able to attend one of them, held monthly at the National Postal Museum, I highly recommend it.

Letter log sent: ink used in letter

Also in the department of "blog posts I meant to write for ages," I shared a post called Habits: How I keep my letter log, about my system for recording incoming and outgoing mail. That's one of my more popular posts, and I'm glad letter-writers have enjoyed reading it.

Outgoing mail pile, Dec 15

And finally, a round-up of some of my favorite posts of 2014:

  • Fabulous mail to kick off 2014
  • Legal tender sender
  • Postcard signed by Inge Löök
  • 3D Dinosaur Stamp from South Africa
  • Essay by Alex Myers on Salon.com this week
  • Postcrossing stamp from Belarus
  • Meeting a pen pal + mobile Letterpress
  • Mozart stamp from the Czech Republic
  • October 11 is National Coming Out Day
  • Who's excited for Halloween?!?
  • Russian Rainbow Circus Stamp
  • Best Hanukkah Card EVER
  • Happy New Year, in a Russian winter postcard

    One of my resolutions for 2015: more blog posts! My blogging was a bit more sparse than I'd like in 2014, and I hope to be more regular in 2015. Thanks to all my readers for your continued readership and comments, and Happy New Year!
  • Friday, January 2, 2015

    Mail art call: What's Your View?

    Since many of my blog readers are also mail artists, I'm sharing with you a Mail Art Call from Mary of Uncustomary Art for her upcoming exhibit, "What's Your View?" All the guidelines are on her blog post, but I'll tip you off that the deadline is coming up pretty soon (January 24, 2015) so make sure not to delay!

    I met Mary this fall at the Mail Social Club at the National Postal Museum, and she is one of the most awesome mail enthusiasts around. She and a friend are curating this exhibit that will be on display in Baltimore, and it sounds pretty exciting. Since Baltimore is only an hour(ish) away from where I live, I'm going to try to both participate in the mail art call and check out the exhibit when it opens. (Anyone else interested in going? :-) Mail trip!)

    And mail art aside, if you haven't visited Mary's blog, Uncustomary Art, I highly recommend you check it out. She blogs about more than just mail, and a lot about life and her wonderful and inspiring art projects, but more than that, Mary has an incredibly positive and uplifting view of life and her way of living it. I always feel inspired, and often a little more warm-fuzzy about humanity in general, after I visit her blog. So go check it out and uplift yourself, and maybe make some mail art, too.

    Here's that link one more time:
    "What's Your View?" Mail Art Call

    Any questions about the project, please direct to Mary on her blog, as I can't answer 'em.

    And finally... Happy New Year 2015! As I type this post, I'm waiting for the first mail of 2015 to arrive. New Year's Day is fun, but as a holiday and no-mail day, I'm eager to see what my mailbox brings today!

    Tuesday, December 30, 2014

    Happy New Year, in a Russian winter postcard

    RU-3269709

    What better way to say "Happy New Year" than with a postcard?

    This lovely Russian postcard, Postcard RU-3269709, (the text reads "Happy New Year" in Russian) came to me via Postcrossing. It's a vintage reprint complete with a lovely ornate design on the back, and something about the snow-covered cottage by a lake really speaks to me. I feel the cozy, inward-turning of wintertime, but the yellow sunrise in the sky lights the promise of a new year. Hmm... am I feeling a little extra poetic-romantic today? Perhaps, but I wish all my blog readers a very Happy New Year as we move into 2015. An added bonus was the very sweet message on this card: it was the sender's first Postcrossing card, and she was quite excited about it. I am honored to be the recipient of her first card! She is sure to be an enthusiastic Postcrosser, and of course enthusiasm brings the most fun.

    DE-3782357

    I've had some great Postcrossing adventures lately, with some wonderful cards received; above is one of my favorites, DE-3782357 from Germany, with a vintage illustration from 1890 of cats on a train. I don't know why this one delights me so much, but it does. Maybe because I like cats and trains both, and the cats on this train look so very civilized and serious, while also looking utterly ridiculous. (The cat illustrations from the late 1800s often share these traits.)

    I also get a kick out of the fact that both these postcards I'm featuring today are vintage reproductions. Those seem to be very popular these days - and I certainly enjoy them myself!

    Thursday, December 18, 2014

    Best Hanukkah card EVER

    Best Hanukkah card EVER!

    The fabulous PostMuse made my day, and made my Hanukkah, with this: the best Hanukkah card ever. I can't find a direct link to the card, but it is from Alternate Histories. You may have read my On holiday cards page, so you may know I'm not big into holiday foo-fa-la, and I get especially grinch-like at the misconception that Hanukkah is as big a deal for Jews as Christmas is for Christians. It's actually a very minor holiday. But lighting candles is fun (I love candles), and PostMuse got it spot-on with this wonderful card!

    Stella's rival: a Hanukkah candle

    We're enjoying "kittens' first Hanukkah" in our household. Oberon has a healthy fear of candles, but Stella exhibits a morbid (and slightly masochistic) fascination with the flames. On the first night, she ended up extinguishing the candle by pawing it. After we wiped her paw down with a cool cloth, she was right back at the Menorah for more action. Fortunately, last night she slept through the candle lighting. Wish us luck with Stella and fire safety throughout the rest of Hanukkah and the future.

    Happy Hanukkah, everyone! Chag sameach to all who celebrate the holiday.

    Friday, December 12, 2014

    Letter Writers Alliance Live Video Social on Dec. 13

    I just found out about this wonderful virtual Letter-Writing Social TOMORROW - Saturday, December 13 - via the Letter Writers Alliance.



    Watch the handy video above, read about it on the LWA blog, and participate on Twitter with the hashtag #LWASocial all day long tomorrow, Saturday, December 13.

    I am a HUGE fan of the Letter Writers Alliance, and a super-huge fan of their virtual letter-writing socials, where anyone in the world can participate via Twitter. It is inspiring to see others sharing community, writing letters (and occasionally tweeting fun photos of mail), and this will have a cool added live video component where Donovan and Kathy, LWA founders and powerhouses, will be answering live Twitter questions and writing mail. And they'll be doing it from their super-cool mail-marvelous LWA studio space with a portable fireplace! (I'm really into that. I long for a letter-writing studio of my own... especially with a fireplace.) For those of you who are into that sort of thing (and I realize this is the vast majority of my readership, just minus me), they'll be writing their holiday cards during the event - and I suspect this is a prime time for a lot of others to be sharing in similar epistolary enjoyment.

    I'll be participating via Twitter - I'll take some breaks for yoga and kitten time, but otherwise this is a GREAT excuse to make tomorrow a dedicated mail day. I hope to see you there tomorrow, and share in the mail love!

    Tuesday, December 9, 2014

    Russian Rainbow Circus Stamp

    Russian Rainbow Circus Stamp

    I recently received this spectacular stamp on a Postcrossing postcard from Russia. The postcard was less memorable, but that stamp is a keeper. I know lots of folks are creeped out by clowns, and this one hardly looks harmless, but somehow the combination of excessive rainbows makes it an absolute winner. And the bear on the bike? Priceless!

    One of my favorite things about Postcrossing is receiving these fascinating postage stamps from all over the world; in many cases, the stamps are a lot more interesting than the postcards!

    Friday, December 5, 2014

    'Tis the season

    Oh my goodness, I have been a bad blogger and have not posted in far too long! Now it's time to post my seasonal reminder, for new blog readers who may not have been exposed to my little "bah humbug" quirks.

    While I would not, in general, try to dissuade anyone from sending me good wishes in postal form, I do not celebrate Christmas and I do not send holiday cards. It is just not my thing, for a wide variety of reasons.

    Want to know more? Read a more in-depth explanation: A word on holiday cards, or, why I don't do Christmas