Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A good mail weekend

Outgoing mail, 11 May 2015

I've had a lot of other stuff going on in my life lately, and I haven't been spending as much time on mail as I'd like... but this weekend, especially Sunday, I got back into it and wrote a bunch of letters and postcards. It felt wonderful to immerse myself in mail all day long again!

There are changes afoot, and I will share the news in due time... but for now, I will say I am thankful for the wonderful world of mail as a longtime hobby and passion that has sustained me through many circumstances and changes.

Happy mailing, everyone!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Champion letter-writing in unexpected circumstances

Letter Postcard to the Central African Republic3

I was at a party last night thrown by a friend, but I didn't know very many people there. They were mostly Alex's colleagues, English grad students. To my surprise, I got into a conversation with Emily, who sought me out to talk about letter-writing. She had found my blog through my post on Alex's recent PBS appearance, which was of course the topic of a number of other conversations at this party. Our conversation expanded to include Danielle, and soon we were all talking about letter-writing, mostly me going on and on about how great it is, and how there really are a lot of people who do still write letters, and you CAN find people to write you back. I went on at great length about Postcrossing, and how that's a wonderful way to ensure an equal ratio of received to sent items. (The photo I used for this post is of a Postcrossing postcard I recently sent to the Central African Republic - a first to that country for me. The postcard is in an envelope because the recipient expressed a preference for that.)

I won't detail all the facets of the conversation, and in some ways I'm preaching to the choir since most of my blog readers are already dedicated letter-writers - but I wanted to share with you how charmed I was that I was able to champion letter-writing in unexpected circumstances.

I will also note that I felt a touch guilty about said post on Alex's recent PBS appearance because it really didn't have anything to do with letter-writing, but it still led to bringing other blossoming letter-writers into the fold, albeit from a different direction than I usually experience. (I'm used to my blog readers finding Alex through this blog, not people who know or search for Alex then finding my blog!) So here's to the opportunities to sing the praises of this fantastic mail hobby.

This post is for Emily, Danielle, and anyone who has ever toyed with the idea of starting to write letters - give it a try!

Oh - I almost forgot! Speaking of a great way to share the love of letter-writing: this coming Sunday, May 3, the Letter Writers Alliance will be hosting another Virtual Mail Social at 4pm EST / 3pm Central. I've done two of their mail socials so far (both, I think? Have there only been two?) and they are a fantastic way to connect in real time with other mail enthusiasts, and share the joy of mail and letter-writing.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Alex Myers: the 'quiet revolution behind the word transgender'

Tonight PBS NewsHour aired an excellent segment that featured my beloved husband Alex Myers, entitled "the quiet revolution behind the word transgender." I like to think of Alex as a quiet revolution, and the video is a nice portrayal. I believe it is the first in a series entitled "Transgender in America." I hope you enjoy watching it. (Yes, they did include two photos of the two of us together - I'm still stunned by the idea of my photo on national television.)

NewsHour also filmed Alex speaking recently at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut, and they have posted a video of his entire unedited 20-minute talk, which he wrote as a more in-depth exploration of his identity and how he has become who he is. Check out "How a label can empower the transgender community", which I think is a more thoughtful exploration... but of course, I'm biased because he wrote it.

And if you're really ambitious, you can watch the entire hour-long NewsHour episode with multiple stories from today.

In essence, I think Alex is a magnificent ambassador for the #trans community, and it is my hope (and I think his hope, too) that by submitting to this media exposure, he can open some minds and hearts, and perhaps provide a lifeline to other queer, #trans, and questioning people - particularly youth. If you know anyone who is questioning their gender identity, or wants to know more, I hope these videos and Alex's writings (and his speaking at schools - he does regular speaking engagements at schools and colleges and posts a lot about them on his Facebook author page and has contact information on his website, should you be interested) can serve as helpful resources.

Oh yeah - he also wrote a pretty amazing novel, "Revolutionary", so check that out, too!

There are some crazy people out there, so I have vowed not to read internet comments on the Facebook posts and YouTube video pages... but this is a more select and loving audience, and I would welcome your comments here. What did you think?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Alex Myers on PBS NewsHour April 23

My beloved husband of 12 years, author Alex Myers, will be featured in a "Transgender America" segment on PBS NewsHour on Thursday evening, April 23. You can watch it live on your local PBS station (it airs on the east coast at 6pm), stream it live at www.ustream.tv/pbsnewshour, or stream it later on the evening it airs at PBS NewsHour videos. I will be sure to provide a direct link once it is available!

While I was not filmed for this segment, they did ask for a photo of the two of us together, plus the correct pronunciation of my name, so hopefully I'll get mentioned (and hopefully they'll pronounce my name correctly)! This is really very big exciting news for us, and for Alex's amazing novel Revolutionary. And of course it is very exciting news to spread awareness and education about gender and gender identity.

I'll be streaming it live at 6pm on Thursday evening - tune in if you are interested!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Great stamps from China, with cat stamp

Stamps on Postcrossing thank-you letter from China

I received a wonderful thank-you letter from China recently, in response to US-3101799 that I sent on Postcrossing. The sender told me a truly beautiful pet story (in my Postcrossing profile, I ask for a beloved pet story if people are wondering what to write), which was heartwarming and sincere. He also sent me some great stickers from China, including some cute cat stickers like the one on the envlope -- and the postage stamps were a gift in and of themselves! Sometimes I get fairly boring stamps from China, but not this batch! Can you guess my favorite?

China Cat Stamp

The cat!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Happy Passover 2015!

Happy Passover!

It's almost seder time, and we're almost ready.

For all who celebrate Pesach, Chag Sameach!

Post-Seder update on April 4, 2015: that was the best gluten-free matzo AND the best kosher for Passover wine I've yet found. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Russian wild cat stamp: Pallas's Cat

Russian Wild Cat Stamp

This is clearly the season for me to receive amazing cat stamps from Postcrossing! This stamp came this week from Russia, riding on RU-3503703. I was so, so excited to receive this: I love any feline stamp, any time, but there is something really wild and compelling about this illustration. Also, alas - a lot of stamps from Russia are fairly boring, so this one really stood out.

I couldn't find out much about this stamp issue (anyone? anyone?), but I did find some basic information indicating it is from a Fauna of Russia: Wild Cats series, and this is Pallas's Cat, which is a fairly rare subspecies native to Central Asia. The photos make it look very similar to this stamp illustration: a very unusual-looking and very fluffy feline.


It is fitting, of course, that the postcard image itself was a fun cat illustration, too. Thank you, Katia from Russia!

Hey U.S. Postal Service: how about a wild cats of the USA stamp issue?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Canada Post black cat Choose Adoption stamp

Canada Black Cat Stamp

This lovely cat stamp came to me recently on a Postcrossing postcard from Canada. I can't recall what the postcard image was, and I neglected to photograph it at the time, but I was utterly charmed by this sweet kitty stamp. (US Postal Service, can we please get more stamps with cats on them??) It is from the 2013 Choose adoption / adopt a pet series, which shows photos of the animals surrounded by a line-drawing illustration of an imagined home life, once they are adopted. And look at the little kitty looking longingly at the cat furniture with a ball of string and a mouse toy! That is a great illustration of how I've loved and spoiled my own shelter-adopted kitties.

Of course this is a subject very close to my own heart: my beloved kitties Stella, Oberon, and Soda (of blessed memory) all came from adoption via animal shelters.

Canada Black Cat Stamp with Butterflies

The postcard also came with these bright and cheery monarch butterfly stamps, too. I've said it many times before, but I'll say it again: the joy from Postcrossing isn't just the postcards (or the lovely connections with mail-loving people), it's also the postage stamp treats, too!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Writing desk candid + washi tape storage


Well, I haven't done such a good job of blogging again this month, have I? The good news is that I've been spending a ton of time writing postcards and longer letters, which has been a pleasure. I took a photo in the middle of writing one of those longer letters recently, just to share the mood of my writing desk. I didn't really tidy it for this, so you can see the current semi-mess in action, complete with messy piles.

I didn't set out to talk about this, but as I look at the photo, I'd like to mention my new storage system for washi tape. I mention this in part because I've been really, really into washi tape especially lately, and my collection has grown... thereby increasing my need for a decent storage system. I like to use the tape outside of a dispenser and place it by hand, and I also need to be able to see all my tapes at once. You can see some of them hanging from my bulletin board on a system I've rigged with hanging them on a ribbon between two pushpins; this is nice for visibility, but a bit of a pain for retrieving the tape unless they're the ones on the end. So, the ones I use less frequently gravitate to the middle.

The new system about which I'm most excited is a little less apparent here, but you can see it under and to the left of the hanging tape rolls, next to the mug of fountain pens. They are Mark's Round Pen Cases which I got from the beloved JetPens. Yes, they are technically pen cases, but when I saw these recently added to the JetPens website, the description mentioned storage for decorative tapes, and I thought.... hmmmm.... First I bought the black case, and then I loved it so much I bought another one in white. The round shape perfectly holds the washi tape, and the clear window lets you see what's inside, and it's easy to retrieve the tapes in the middle. Now my favorite, most-used tapes live in the Mark's Round Pen Cases for fast and easy access. As you can see in the photo, they stand up nicely on their own (though they could be hung quite easily using the zipper ring), and if I need to expand, I'll get them in different colors to differentiate. They also feel very sturdy, and would stand up well to travel, I think.

You can see some of my washi tape use on the letter on the desk. I have more ideas for blog posts than I'm sure I will ever execute, but this makes me think I should review some of the utterly adorable tapes I've found recently; the designs available have exploded exponentially in the past few years, and it's pretty amazing what you can find on a tape now.

If you have any nice writing desk photos, or washi tape storage ideas, or any other thoughts, please share in the comments!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Snow day = mail day

Snow day view

Today we have yet another snow day here in Washington, DC. It's predicted to be a lot of snow, even by DC's very low standards (I will refrain from going on about how this city cannot handle snow), and I am enjoying yet another snow day at home. It's going to be kittens and mail, all day long!

Oberon, snow watcher

And of course, snow-watching.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Spacecat: The Case of the Empty Envelope

The case of the empty envelope

I recently received this phenomenal handmade envelope from Allison Anne, a mail enthusiast with whom I connected via Twitter. We'd exchanged a couple of postcards, and she sent me a letter... but alas, I only received the envelope! It appears the letter fell out en route somehow.

The envelope is so spectacular that I had to share it with you. She tells the full story on her blog, and we both blame the tape used to seal the edges. It wasn't too sticky, and on one edge the tape had come unstuck, giving the letter an escape route as it was squeezed through the mail sorting machines... or so we surmise. (I had to secure it with transparent tape for this photo.)

Space Cat Envelope

I'm sure it was a spectacular letter - how could it not be, transported by such a space cat? - and I'm so sorry to miss it, but nevertheless, I am delighted by this excellent envelope.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mike says I don't write often enough

"You don't write often enough"

Yesterday I received another great Postcrossing postcard, and laughed out loud at what Mike wrote. Turns out he was already a regular reader of my blog when he was assigned to send me a Postcrossing postcard, and he tells me I don't write blog posts often enough. I think he's right.

I'm trying! I have a goal of at least 5 posts per month. I failed in January, but I'll manage (and maybe exceed?) that for February.

On my Postcrossing profile, I invite senders to share a beloved pet story. I really enjoyed Mike's story about how their cat Tiger came into their lives.