Saturday, July 24, 2010

Almost moved!

Guardian of the boxes

Well, I've not been writing much mail in the past few days, because my move is in high gear now. We have access to the new place and I can start to move things in today - no way am I packing all my bottles of fountain pen ink, those get a hand carry, thank you very much! - and the moving van comes on Monday morning.

The cats are all very much upset, of course, and this photo was taken a while ago... now there aren't enough unused boxes left to make a perch for Soda (who is nervously cleaning herself next to me on the couch right now). Just a few more days of real limbo, and hopefully we'll all be feeling at home in the new place before too long.

I finally bit the bullet yesterday and packed my stationery. Eeek! No postcards for me going out now, though I do have a hand-carry bag of some stationery essentials, and of course my fountain pens in their case get a hand-carry, too.

And I think I'd better quit blogging now, and start some transporting of the aforementioned items. If you want to send any good thoughts, please send them to my 3 cats, who will just not get over their nervousness for a while, no matter what we do. Moving is harder on cats than people, for sure.

My name in sparkly red letters

sparkly red letters

This fine handmade envelope came from the lovely Zoë. I am so taken with those sparkly, puffy red letters! They were sticking on very well, and must be low-profile enough not to cause problems in any sorting machines. I was a bit surprised they came through so unscathed, because they definitely have a texture that sticks up from the envelope.

handmade envelope with sparkly stars

Zoë made this envelope herself, and she has become quite the devotee of making her own envelopes: she even has a fairly new etsy shop, strandedhero, where she sells her handmade envelopes and photo postcards.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cat postcard from Japan

Cat postcard from Japan

This excellent cat postcard came to me from Japan via the Cat-cards #3 swap on Swap-bot. I get a lot of crappy cards from Swap-Bot, but this one really delighted me - something about the composition and illustration style make it one of my favorites.

Excellent Japanese stamps!

Also - it had killer stamps! I am loving the elephant holding the heart-envelope, of course.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Back home with mail (and cats)

Postcard nap

I had a lovely vacation, and now it's good to be home. Instead of photographing my awaiting mail pile (34 items received in the week I was away: 16 postcards, 18 letters), I thought this view of Soda asleep on my received postcards was even better. Of course she was very possessive of both me and my mail.

I've now read it all, and will share honestly that I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed with mail. On my vacation, I reconnected with the joy of reading... I am always a reader, but I haven't given myself permission to sit down with a book during the day lately, because there are always letters waiting. (The exception is reading in bed... I can't fall asleep unless I've been reading for a while first.) Well, I need to handle my packing, moving and general stress right now, and reading has been a great escape. So I'm going to continue to write as much as I can, while still enjoying the task... and ask my blog readers to understand. Yes, I probably got your letter. Yes, it is probably sitting in my needs-response pile, which is very well over 100 items now. (Please, I'm not even going to count it again.) I will respond as I am able, and my turnaround time seems to average -- eek, average -- about 3 months. This sucks for you and it sucks for me, but it's the way I've gotta cope right now. My letter pile is huge and I am not going to make it go away completely, so I'm just going to enjoy each letter as it comes and goes, and try to be zen about it. Thanks for understanding... and I hope you are having a Good Mail July.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Into the woods, part 2

Where I'll write my postcards

Once again I am heading off into the woods for a nature vacation. I'll be away from mail all next week, but I'll most likely be writing a few postcards from the beautiful deck pictured above. I hope the weather is good! I may or may not be able to do posts and approve comments in my absence, that remains to be seen - but I shall rejoin the mailing world, hopefully refreshed and revived, the following week.

Happy summer!

Gorey galore-y

Stampy Gorey card with envelope

Here's some blog reader mail art from someone who shares my love of Edward Gorey! You can see the envelope below the card, which had some beautiful flower stamps on it.

Hand-stamped Gorey card

And here's her hand-stamped card, featuring a moonlit extravaganza of frolicking Gorey characters - complete with bats! Yay. I love the Gorey bat. I have that stamp, too, but I probably don't use it often enough.

Gorey-stamped envelope

I broke out some Gorey stamps of my own for the envelope I sent back to her.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Airplanes for Air mail

Airplanes for air mail

This blog reader letter-writer is also a pilot - he sends me letters with these great sparkly airplane stickers, and the envelope on the left was made from an old flight map. (Do you call those flight charts?)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Issue with commenting

Hundreds if not thousands of Google Blogger blogs seem to be experiencing this same problem, but FYI - comment approval is all wonky. I am seeing comments that I am unable to approve due to an internal Google error, and the comments may be disappearing without being approved. Basically I can see them in email but not my Google dashboard. This morning I have around 12 new comments, and I've been able to approve and publish only two of them. The problem started yesterday and is much worse today.

So, my apologies to anyone who has left a comment that isn't showing up. Yes, I do require approval on comments, but the only comments I ever reject are those that are deeply offensive, trying to sell something, or are creepy-stalker towards me or someone else on the blog. (It doesn't happen often, but... it does happen.) Please don't give up, and I will let you know if I find out any resolution from Google Blogger, where I, like multitudinous others, have reported the problem.

Monday, July 5, 2010

LetterNews: a newsletter about letters

I've been eagerly following the Letters & Journals blog since its inception. It seems like a fine enterprise, with the end goal of publishing a print magazine about... letters and journals!

I'm not a huge magazine subscriber - we take The New Yorker, but that's pretty much it - but I plan to subscribe to this one in its inception, just to show support for the idea. It looks like it will be a lovely enterprise in itself, though, and the latest two steps in the process have been the launch of the beautiful Letters & Journals website (not to be confused with the blog) in May, and the Letternews, the email newsletter. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I entered the contest to name their newsletter, and - lucky me! - I won! So you can credit the absolutely brilliant title, LetterNews, to me. Ha!

Anyway, Jackie, the charming founder and mastermind (and, may I also note, the one who introduced me to the fine services of face-value-vintage-stamp-salesman Erroll Murphy), is looking to get 500 subscribers to the free email newsletter in order to move to the next step towards publishing the magazine - I believe she needs to demonstrate to advertisers that there is enough interest out there (please correct me if I'm wrong on this point, Jackie), and so let's show her! Of course I have long since signed up for LetterNews myself, but do have a look to check it out; the illustrations in the blog header and design are really lovely, and make me want to leave my computer and go write a letter. What could be better than that?

Astounding calligraphy + amusing comics

Best. Address. Ever!

This very talented blog reader has written me in calligraphy before, and it was such a treat to hear from him again! I think I want to frame this envelope, it is so magnificent. And I love the feather flourish at the top.

Wax seal with white-ink return address

The return address is beautiful, too, and the sealing wax matches the ink.

I know you want a closer look at that eagle seal:

Wax seal: raspberry eagle

Dazzling! Now, someone might be able to tell me why the crowned eagle is sticking out his tongue? That must have some interesting significance.

Letter-writing comics

This kind blog reader's ostensible purpose was to send me these very amusing comics about letter-writing; they're fun, but I enjoyed his writing far more!

Calligraphy letter

Indeed, the whole letter was that incredibly beautiful.

How can ANYONE think that an email could ever equal THIS?

Time to pack!

Soda helps pack

I have avoided mentioning this for fear of having to explain, incessantly, that MY MAILING ADDRESS WILL NOT CHANGE, but --
I will be moving soon.

(Dollars to donuts, someone is going to ask for my new address anyway. I don't have a new address. It's the same as ever, because I don't get my mail where I live. It's a rented box. Creepy stalkers can find my mailbox but not where I live. And my mailbox is guarded by scary creatures all the time. So don't even think about it, creepy stalkers.)

This will cause yet still more backups in staying on top of letters, which is why I'm trying to churn out so many now. Plus there's a vacation in the middle of July, I'll be away for a week, and then will move verrry shortly after I return from vacation.


But anyway. I just thought I'd show these cute photos of Soda "helping" me pack. Needless to say, the cats are NOT enthused. They know what the boxes mean - we've moved numerous times in their lives. Blah. We've promised them fun new cat furniture at the new place...

I am putting off packing my stationery and writing supplies until the VERY last minute, though!

One more time: please don't ask me what my new address will be - it doesn't change. My pen pals can write at the same address as always.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Where outgoing letters await their journey

Where outgoing letters await their journey

Ang of A Year of Letters recently asked where letter-writers put their outgoing mail when awaiting the letter carrier. I told her my method of lining them up along the stairs, between both the front and the back doors, and she asked for a picture. Okay, I finally got around to doing it! Currently there's nothing sitting there, though, because I've already mailed last night's fare. I didn't want to miss the last Saturday pickup today before the long weekend.

Looking for a pen pal?

I often get questions from blog readers about where they can find more pen pals. Let me call your attention to one of my handy little sidebar link sets, practically titled "How to find people who might write you back." It's just under the old-school USPS logo (that came from a photograph of one of my grandfather's old patches... he worked for the Postal Service for most of his life).

All those links can hook you up with people, addresses, etc. Caveat: I have not used all of them myself, but some I list as a convenience for those who are searching. As I've said before, I've got more letters and pen pals than I think I can keep up with, but it was not always thus, and I appreciate all the tips from others I got along the way.

That being said, there are two fine blogs that are currently doing a sort of ad-hoc pen pal thang.

From the Good Mail Day blog (yes indeed, one of the very fabulous mail art pros behind the very fabulous Good Mail Day book!), there is a "call for scribblers, mail artists, and pen friends." It's very informal and ad-hoc, but people list their addresses and interests right there.

Second, Megan of the fine Australian Time after Tea has started a Penpal mailing list. It's brand-new, but it seems there will be profiles with an email option - so that might be more of interest to those folks who don't want to give out their address publicly. (To quote the abovementioned Good Mail Day Carolee, "may I just say that a post office box goes a long way towards achieving privacy peace of mind." I myself have a box at a UPS store, which has different perks and drawbacks than a PO Box, but affords the same sort of privacy... hence my willingness to post my address on this here blog for all the world to see.) There should be more details on Time after tea soon, but I am excited to see how it develops. It seems I tend to find out about these pen pal things after they're done and closed, so I'm glad to be able to share this info while it's still good and hoppin'.

Go write a letter! It's late and past my bedtime now, but I'm a little overly proud of myself that it's only July 2 (well, okay, as per the post-midnight clock, it's July 3, but it's July 2 to me until I go to sleep and wake up the next morning) and I've got 14 outgoing items this month already. That will maybe give me a head start on making up for my week of vacation off in the woods later this month...

Friday, July 2, 2010

June stats

In continuing the outgoing stats listing, here's my June output:



Total out

I recently mused on whether or not I should post incoming stats. I am still on the fence about this, and I am certainly not going to keep a regular count of how many letters and postcards are in my infamous "pile." (That would be the Needs Response pile, that is.) Out of curiosity, though, I did check my records (I keep this in a notebook, just for me, of what postal items I receive each day, from whom, from where, and date postmarked), and although I did not take the time to count which were letters and which were postcards (I can tell you there were more letters than postcards, but not precisely how many), I can report that I received a total of 79 items in June. So... I just barely put out more than I received! Hooray! Postcrossing postcards do skew these statistics a bit, especially since they do not generally receive mail responses either way, but since Postcrossing just sent their own handy stats report, I know that I sent 18 Postcrossing postcards in June and received 15.

I think, for now, I will not post a running tally of incoming, the way that I do with outgoing, but perhaps I will list the total incoming once the month is wrapped up, the way I have done this month. Or maybe I won't. We'll see.

Past months:
May 2010 stats
April and March 2010 stats

Oh! I totally forgot to mention, also, that I am super-duper psyched that I've hit 200+ blog followers now. ZOWIE! Thanks so much, everybody!!