Saturday, August 25, 2012

Of course I spent money in the Edward Gorey House giftshop...

The Envelope Art of Edward Gorey poster

I promise this will be my LAST post on my visit earlier this week to Edward Gorey House (at least for a while...?), but I thought it essential to share with you my purchases from the gift shop. Of course I was highly excited about the gift shop, and indeed, they had a very fine Gorey selection.

Above, we have the poster for this year's exhibit itself, Edward Gorey's Envelope Art. The poster doesn't show Gorey's actual envelope art, but it does show some lovely mail-related Gorey artwork. I wish they had this poster available as postcards, or this artwork as a postcard, but oh well. I was so taken with the poster that I just had to buy it, for decor as well as a fun commemorative. It is adapted from Gorey's cover art for "Other People's Mail," Berg Collection, NY Public Library, 1974.

My haul from the Edward Gorey House gift shop!

They had a fine selection of Gorey postcards, so of course I had to buy a bunch. Here they all are. I included the paper back they came in, because it was pre-stamped with bat stamps. SWOON!

postcard of Edward Gorey (1925-2000), photo by Kevin McDermott

I bought one postcard of the artist himself...

Info on Gorey postcard

There's the full info from the back of the postcard, for those of you who (like me) want the full story.

The World of Edward Gorey stickers

I was terribly excited to see these "The World of Edward Gorey" stickers, because as far as I know, they're discontinued. I used to buy them regularly online and in certain bookstores/stationery stores, but I haven't found them anywhere in years! So I had to buy three sets. Yay.

I wanted to chronicle my finds before I sent any, but now I think it's time to go write some Edward Gorey postcards.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Edward Gorey House visit: Part 3

Edward Gorey's Couch placard

As previously mentioned, Gorey was a cat lover, and apparently his feline companions had run of the house to do as they pleased. I find it utterly charming that the House Museum included this placard near the original couch. "The dramatic and creative result of many years of many cats is the couch you see before you..."

Gorey's couch, as "destroyed" by his cats

Yep, that's what the kitties can do.

O is for Olive run through with an awl.

Gorey wrote The Gashleycrumb Tinies, one of his most famous books, in 1963. It is an abecedarian book featuring the death of a child for every letter of the alphabet. It's delightfully morbid. My current 2012 calendar, above my writing desk, is from the Gashleycrumb Tinies. This month I see "Q is for Quentin who sank on a mire. R is for Rhoda consumed by a fire," complete with the accompanying drawings. Behind the house is a "graveyard" for the Gashleycrumb Tinies... here we see O is for Olive run through with an awl. (Here's more about the gravestones, if you're interested.)

My happy pose with The Doubtful Guest

Here I am posing with the garden sculpture of The Doubtful Guest. What an honor!

My Doubtful Guest sort-of-imitation

Naturally, I had to get a little silly and try a sort-of imitation. It kind of looks like he's sniffing my head or sucking my brains out, no?

Tea at The Optimist Cafe

After our visit, we headed over to The Optimist Cafe for lunch - just a few blocks down the road, and a delightful lunch. They had a whole tea menu, so I indulged in a pot. It was an indulgent day, an utter delight. I hope you've enjoyed my excessive posts about the visit (and good gravy, I think this is more photos of my own self than I've ever posted, oy!) and, as I said before, I encourage anyone in the area to make time for a visit. The Gorey House is open seasonally, April through December.

The Edward Gorey House visit: Part 1

The Edward Gorey House visit: Part 2

If you want to see the whole slew of photos of my visit (with commentary), hop on over to my full Edward Gorey House photo set on Flickr.

And don't forget to check out the Edward Gorey House website, too!

Edward Gorey House visit: Part 2

Kitchen fireplace, with framed Figbash puppet

Edward Gorey's kitchen was filled with character. Here we see his fireplace mantle. Note the cat food bowls on the hearth, and the cat on the mantle. Cat imagery was EVERYWHERE (Gorey adored cats and always had "about 5 or 6 at a time"), but alas, the latest Gorey House live cat had just passed away two weeks before my visit. (That cat was not one of Gorey's, but an adoptee and fixture in the house.)

Gorey often made his own puppets, usually stuffed with rice. The framed puppet on the mantle is Figbash, a character created for his book "The Raging Tide." I believe this is the first, original Figbash doll, but I could be wrong... I was in another room when the tour guide explained that, and I was only half-listening.

There's also a nice fat cat on the mantle, and a couple of dogs, and of course an axe... reference to his Gashleycrumb Tinies book? "K is for Kate who was struck with an axe." Now, can you guess my favorite thing about the mantle? Look at the braces holding it up. They're carved bats!!

The last waffle of the millennium is a dancing girl

The last waffle of the millennium? And it's a dancing girl? I missed the story of this in the tour. I guess I was wandering at that stage. This is one bit I wish I'd heard more about. Wow. I do know it's from the restaurant where Gorey ate two meals a day, nearly every day... you can also see the framed waffle itself.

A month of receipts from Gorey's favorite restaurant

Speaking of that restaurant... here's a month of receipts from it. It's fascinating to see what he ate. He ate at this place twice a day nearly every day, and it was a quirky local place where diners filled out their own order slips, bussed their own tables, and had their own mugs hanging on hooks in the place. So these were his orders, in his own handwriting. I saw a lot of eggs and tuna melts.

Mystery man

If you're a Gorey fan, you probably know that he drew/animated the intro theme for the PBS show "Mystery!" I remember seeing that in my early childhood, and being utterly enchanted... perhaps that's one of the early seeds of my Gorey obsessions. The back room was filled with Mystery memorabilia, and there is a TV in the corner that loops the intro constantly. I don't recall if this reading man with cat figured into the Mystery intro, but I love the artwork.

Stamp and scribble table

Sorry this photo is a touch blurry, but I just had to throw it on the blog for its Gorey charm. This kid-sized table and chairs, with a bunch of Gorey stamps and crayons and paper, is in a corner of the Mystery room. I asked about the stamps in the gift shop, but alas - they're discontinued and the store had none to sell! In typical Gorey style, even though this looks like a kids area, there is a delightfully disturbing quote from The Doubtful Guest posted on the wall above the characters (from that scene of The Doubtful Guest) that reads:

"It joined them at breakfast and presently ate
All the syrup and toast, and a part of a plate."

Thus concludes Part 2. Stay tuned for Part 3, where you'll see photos of Gorey's cat-scratched couch, and photos of me posing with The Doubtful Guest (tee hee).

Edward Gorey House visit: Part 1

Me with the Gorey House front door cat, cropped

Here begins my official, extensive chronicle of my fantastic visit to The Edward Gorey House yesterday. I have so many photos to share with you that I think I'll need to break it up into multiple posts. If you want to see the whole slew of photos, though, hop on over to my full Edward Gorey House photo set on Flickr.

So above, you see me posing with the fantastic, dapper front door cat. This is the actual front door of 8 Strawberry Lane, but now you enter and exit the house/museum through the side door (aka gift shop).

The current exhibit is what got me off my duff to finally visit the Gorey House: Edward Gorey's Envelope Art!!

Reproduced Gorey air mail envelope art

Most unfortunately, the Gorey House allows non-flash photography everywhere BUT the current featured exhibit. So, alas, the items I most wanted to photograph were strictly forbidden. Words do not describe the utter amazingness of the envelopes on display - originals, in Gorey's own hand, through the mail with their old stamps and postmarks and all - so if you are at all able to make it to the museum to see them, I cannot recommend it highly enough. (It runs through December 2012.) Many of the envelopes were featured in the recent book, Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer, and I hear that book is wonderful. I'd like to get it. But quite a few of the envelopes were to many different people (including delightful ones to Gorey's mother), and I don't know if those feature in the book or not. I somehow think not. Anyway, the image above, a reproduction on a sign outside, was the only "envelope" I got to photograph. Some cool things were in the special display room, too, and photos weren't allowed anywhere in there. So I couldn't take photos of photos of Gorey snuggling with his own cats, or his original "I love cats" artwork, complete with cat, or of the typewriter by that mantle. But oh well. All the more reason to entice you to the museum yourself.

Lovely, batty bathroom in the Gorey House

It's a 90-minute drive to the Gorey House from my own, so of course one of the first things I needed to do upon arrival was visit the loo. Even the humble potty room was enlivened with Gorey character, including bats on the mirror. (Swoon.)

I escaped the tour to do so; we got there right at opening, and jumped into a very large tour that had just begun. Full disclosure: I did not care for the tour and only shadowed it. My best beloved and I struck out on our own, reading placards and exploring at our own pace. I heard bits from the tour, but not only was I put off by the size of the tour - the rooms were small, and not everyone in the tour group could even fit inside the room being toured - but I was not enamored of the tour guide. You know how it is. Sometimes you just don't click with 'em. Nothing personal.

Epistolary Play!!

Epistolary Play!! I confess I'd never even heard of this, but how I would have loved to have seen it! I was bummed that the gift shop didn't have any of the postcards, but oh well. How awesome is the tree of pen nibs?? In my Edward Gorey House Flickr photo set, there's also another great photo in this vein of a bouquet of pen nibs for Epistolary Play.

Dracula memorobilia

In the area that used to be the main front staircase of the house, there is now a display of Gorey's fantastic involvement in the 1977 Broadway staging of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Gorey designed both the costumes and the sets. He was nominated for Tony awards for both, and won the Tony for Best Costume Design. I somehow managed NOT to get a good photo of the Tony itself.

Because this is so extensive and photo-heavy, I'm going to break this up into multiple parts. Ready for more? Voila - Edward Gorey House visit: Part 2!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Today I went to the Edward Gorey House!

Front of the Edward Gorey House, complete with cat

Today was a VERY exciting day in my little Missive Maven world: I finally visited The Edward Gorey House! I took a little field trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts - Yarmouth Port, to be precise - with my best beloved, and we spent a lovely time exploring the house and grounds, followed by a fabulous lunch at a cute teahouse nearby. I took 80 photos and absorbed ever so much about one of my all-time favorite artists. It did not disappoint - we loved the house so much that we decided we have to go back as soon as they have another exhibition. (I believe they change a few times every year.)

Proof: I was really there! Proof: I was really there!

I took a whopping 80 photos, and I will soon be sorting through them and writing a FULL post all about this lovely visit. But I was so excited about the adventure that I just had to share it with my dear readers right away.

I cannot believe the days have flown by. How have I not posted since August 11?? I apologize for neglecting the blog, and if truth be told, neglecting my mail somewhat. My life has been filled with ups and downs the past few months - family drama and health issues combined with wonderful trips and joys like this - but at least I can say I have been living it to the fullest. Summer rhythms are about to cycle into the fall season, and that always brings changes... but I am still here, and very excited to share not only more Edward Gorey House photos with you (hopefully tomorrow), but MAIL-RELATED Edward Gorey House photos!

For now, though, it's time to go write a letter.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Russian ballet postcard with great stamps


This lovely postcard came to me from Russia this week, as RU-1104338 via Postcrossing. The sender, Cathi, writes that this ballerina is the real deal and not just a posed photo. "Her legs are telling that she's a dancer: gastrocnemiuses look strong, perfect shape of shank, back is not slouching." If you're like me and wondering what that muscle she references might be, it's the calf muscles! She goes on to write a lot more about ballet and some ballet she loves, and why. It was a delightful education.


AND, she used fantastic stamps! What a lovely combination of folk art, portrait art, and a fine-looking beetle.


I like the folk art stamp the best - is it depicting a fairy tale? Why is this long-haired lady letting her hair down a stream? It reminds me of a watery Rapunzel. If any blog readers, Russian or otherwise, might know the answer, please do elucidate.

This is why I love Postcrossing - surprises like this in my mailbox all the time! If you enjoy sending mail and would like to receive more, I highly recommend Postcrossing for adventures in mailing. You will most likely get quite a lot of crappy postcards, but there are gems, too, and the international stamps are always fun.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Magical Creatures Postcard swap

Red Dragon postcard

Do you like fairies? Dragons? Unicorns? Elves? I do! And I love fantasy artwork. I feel like I could use a little magic in my life right now, so I created the Magical Creatures Postcard Swap on Swap-bot. If you're interested in swapping a magical creature postcard, do check it out!

It's an international swap, with only one partner, so you only need one of those magical postcards on hand. The sign-up deadline is on August 13, and the send deadline is a week later on August 21. I hope to see lots of interested folks joining in the swapping of magical creatures!

Where have I been??

I can't believe we're more than a week into August already. Just a quick apology here for being so absent... I caught a cold at the end of my vacation last month, and it seems to have developed into a sinus infection. It's really knocked me flat, and I've not been up for much the past week. I am on the upswing now, and I intend to be diving back into mail and mail blogging.

Meanwhile, I hope everyone is healthy, happy, and experiencing many fine summer mail days!