Sunday, October 19, 2014

Habits: how I keep my letter log

Letter log received: Always the same pen and ink

I am a creature of habit, and when I find one I like and that serves me well, I am pretty good at sticking with it. So I have kept the same letter log habit for many years, and I was reflecting upon it this morning so I thought I'd share my thoughts.

I've blogged before about how I keep my letter log, and that has evolved over the years so you can sort of see that evolution in those blog posts, but I explained my method in great detail in my 2011: a year in mail post.

Not much has changed since then: I still log all my mail in a small black Rhodia Webnotebook (I have many volumes of them at this point!), and log all received items using a Pilot Varsity fountain pen refilled with Noodler's Heart of Darkness ink. I love this method. It is an immediate visual differentiation between sent and received, and I can page through and see the received immediately because I always use this blacker-than-black ink in the same pen with generous flow for the task. (I should note that the Pilot Varsity is a disposable fountain pen, not technically made to be easily refillable but it's quite simple to pull it apart and refill it with whatever ink you like - I explain that a bit in this post - and the pens do eventually die or wear out, but it's just a few bucks to replace with a new one, and their quality control is quite high so it feels just like the same pen.) Above you can see my current letter log, with the Pilot Varsity and that lovely very-black Noodler's Heart of Darkness ink. The letter opener just helps to hold the book open for the photo, but it is always close at hand when I'm logging my mail.

Letter log sent: ink used in letter

I log all sent items in whatever ink I used last for the body of the letter or the postcard, so there is quite a colorful variety there. I don't often use the Noodler's Heart of Darkness for the body of a letter, so it doesn't create any visual confusion in the letter log.

The letters P or L indicate a postcard or a letter, and the numbers indicate how many I've sent that month. It helps me count for my own statistics, which I don't really do much with except note with curiosity how each month varies. I used to post my mail stats on this blog, but it felt too competitive, either with myself or with others, and that is not the point of my enjoyment of mail or this blog, so I discontinued the stat-posting.

I have thought about making a searchable Excel spreadsheet with this information; it would certainly help me find something quickly when I need to look it up. Ultimately, though, I come back to the conclusion that my mail habits are to slow down and get me away from the computer, and every time I've needed to find something in the letter log, I've been able to do so.

So, for now anyway, I'm sticking to my pen and ink habits.

What about you? How do you keep track of your mail?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Who's excited for Halloween?!?

Bat-themed Halloween postcard swap, front

Halloween is my favorite holiday. If you've been following my blog for long, you'll know I've done many, many posts about Halloween and Halloween mail. Partly this is because I adore bats, but also because I just like the spooky autumnal mood. I can't really explain why I love Halloween so much, I just do.

So it tends to be around Halloween that I'll jump back into Swap-bot for a couple of Halloween-type postcard swaps. I just participated in a Bat-themed Halloween postcard swap, which involved a handmade bat postcard. Can do! I had great fun using my bat washi tapes and stickers.

Bat-themed Halloween postcard swap, back

Of course this was a perfect occasion to use one of my brand-new Batman stamps, just issued last week.

Now that I'm posting the photos, I just realized that I never used any of my great bat rubber stamps on it! Oh well, there is plenty more mail (October and otherwise) for that.

Happy Halloween mailing!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

World Post Day: Mail Social Club at the National Postal Museum

Celebrate: Neon sign at National Postal Museum

I celebrated World Post Day at the National Postal Museum with their fabulous Mail Social Club, coordinated by Melissa of Craftgasm. It was one heck of an awesome way to celebrate World Post Day, and I found myself wondering, why haven't I been to one of these before?!? Circumstances in my life conspired against me, but the event is now monthly, and I am sure this was only the first of many I shall attend.

Freebie covers at the National Postal Museum

The evening began with a tour of the stamp gallery with the head Philatelist, which included a very interesting lecture on "covers," aka envelopes. Unfortunately none of my photos of that bit turned out very well, except the photo above of the table of freebie covers - one lovely cover for everyone. I took an aerogramme, because hey, why not? (Canceled stamps don't excite me nearly as much as ones I can use and send.)

Work tables at Mail Social Club

Then, the real fun began! We headed to a lovely education space upstairs, which was a phenomenal workspace for our mail social. The theme of the evening was envelope making, and every table had scissors and envelope templates already set up, including the fabulous 2014 postal rates graphic by Donovan of the LWA. The event was held in a private room, part of the Byrne Education Loft.

Mail Social Club in action

Here you can see the front of the room. Not the greatest photo, I know, but you can sort of get the idea. What you can't see is all the AMAZING FREE MATERIALS that were provided! I knew I would love any mail social, and that it would be a grand event, but I had no idea how very generous Melissa and The National Postal Museum would be. Not only did they provide scissors, envelope templates, glue sticks, and all kinds of awesome envelope-making paper, but they also provided washi tape, used stamps and other embellishments, pens and pencils - more than everything you'd need to make gorgeous envelopes. You could have arrived completely empty-handed and still come away with awesome goodies. Thank you, Melissa and the Postal Museum, for your generosity!

Melissa teaches us about envelope-making

Here is Melissa teaching us how to make envelopes. Check out the very awesome George Washington stamp design on the window behind her! Yes, this is a place for mail geeks to get all nerd-tastic over details such as these.

Making mail

Above, my table at work. Another amazing benefit: meeting other mail geeks, some of whom were already pen pals! I got to meet and share a table with Allison of OMG Crafties and Mary of Uncustomary Art. I am good with candids and casual background photos but very bad with engineering poses, so I'm sorry I don't get to share their smiling lovely faces with you (d'oh! We all should have posed for a photo together! Damn my shy social introversion...), but sharing a table and mail-making with them was beyond fabulous. Mary and Allison were veterans of the Mail Social Club scene, and they knew to bring a lovely array of supplies. Mary also wrote lots of mail while there, which I thought was a pretty neat trick. You don't have to participate in the planned activity, you can just do your own mail thing. I'll have to keep this in mind as it's now getting into the season for people to make (and freak out about) holiday cards, and, well... y'all know how I feel about that scene. But now I know I can just participate in mail camaraderie and ignore the holiday hubbub when the time comes.



I made a short little Vine video of my envelope-making; this is my first time trying to embed a Vine video so we'll see how this goes. (Feedback, anyone? Like the video or is it distracting? I could do more of these in the future, or consider it a novelty. I'm undecided.)

Envelope made at Mail Social Club

Here's one of the envelopes I made at the event. I'd like to note that all these materials - envelope paper, glue stick, washi tape, Canadian butterfly stamp embellishment - were provided at the event!

Making mail at the Mail Social Club

The event was well-attended, with many happy folks making mail and envelopes. The room was alive with chatter, and the organizers even played some good tunes for our working inspiration. I commented to Mary that the only thing that was missing was wine! (I understand well why the National Postal Museum can't provide THAT for free.)

National Postal Museum

I had to leave a bit early and unfortunately couldn't stay for the whole event, but on my way out I snapped this photo of the stamp gallery, alone and quiet at night, with the reflection of the neon "Celebrate" stamp sign. It was certainly a cause for celebration.

From the National Postal Museum

Finally, here's my haul from the event. I was able to get there a bit early and just make it to the post office (within the Postal Museum, of course!) before it closed, and not only was it World Post Day, but it was also the date of release for the brand-new Batman stamps, so even though I pre-ordered them online, I bought myself a couple of sheets right there. (Good thing, too - my pre-order still hasn't arrived yet.) I also picked up these fabulous $2 bobcat stamps, which I'd not seen before, and thought were too awesome to pass up.

So, the final verdict -- the Mail Social Club was utterly marvelous! I am already excited to attend another one. Mark your calendars: the next Mail Social Club is on Thursday, November 13!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

October 11 is National Coming Out Day

Rainbow unicorn postcard

Happy National Coming Out Day, everyone! I did a much longer first official National Coming Out Day post on my blog a few years ago, so please do check that out. In case you didn't know, I"m bisexual and my husband is FTM transgender, and we both identify as queer, individually and in our marriage. (In addition to his amazing novel "Revolutionary," my beloved, Alex Myers, has written some wonderful essays on the topic of being queer, transgender, and married, and if you're interested in this topic I suggest you check out "Are you a boy or a girl?: our trans-bisexual love story on Salon.com and Multiplicity on The Rumpus.)

I believe it's important to be out for visibility, civil rights, support for questioning youth, and a whole host of other reasons. So, here I am! Happy National Coming Out Day! You can learn more about National Coming Out Day on the ubiquitous Wikipedia.

And in relation to mail, the fabulous rainbow unicorn postcard pictured above is available on etsy from Pink Toe Press.

In other news, this blog post is my 1000th post! Woo-hoo! That's a double reason to celebrate.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October 9 is World Post Day




Today is October 9 - World Post Day! Alas, the USA doesn't seem to make much of this happy celebration of worldwide postal services, but many other countries do celebrate, including Sri Lanka which has issued fine commemorative stamps like the one shown above.

Postcrossing has a lovely blog post about World Post Day, including a listing of worldwide events. I am very excited that I will be joining in the event for the USA: a meeting of the Mail Social Club at the National Postal Museum! I'll get a tour of their stamp gallery, and participate in making mail with other enthusiasts. I'm so tickled that I can celebrate World Post Day in this special way this evening. Perhaps I can take some photos and share the fun with you afterwards.

Happy World Post Day, and happy mailing!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mozart stamp from the Czech Republic

Mozart stamp from Czech Republic

There are many things I love about Postcrossing: the serendipity of unexpected postcards from around the world showing up in my mailbox, the fairness of receiving exactly the number of postcards that I send... but I also love the incredible variety of foreign postage stamps it brings me. I'm not really a stamp collector, per se, but I am certainly an aficionado, and I appreciate a fine stamp as much as anyone.

So I was extremely excited to receive this beautiful stamp of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, from the Czech Republic, issued in 2011. I find the design especially beautiful - not just a simple portrait or profile, but instead an active image of this vibrant personality in motion, conducting, superimposed over an image of the original score to Don Giovanni. It even illustrates what a clothing dandy Mozart was, with the fine frock and lacy cuffs. This one is a keeper!

For more information on the stamp, check out this fine blog post about Czech stamps.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

New page: Stationery Sources

Oberon likes my stationery shelves

I am often asked where I buy my stationery.

I used to direct folks to a sidebar on this blog, but that became cumbersome (it's not a direct link, after all), and felt incomplete. I want to explain why I like what I favor.

So, I finally finished a project I've been meaning to do for months: a big old page of links on my favorite stationery retailers (all online), and why.

Voila! Stationery Sources is now a page linked from the page navigation at the top of every page, and you can get to it from the old sidebar as well.

I hope you find it useful, and please share comments on your own favorite retailers.