Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy New Year, in a Russian winter postcard


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.


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

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.

Monday, September 1, 2014

September 2: Twitter chat on historical fiction

If you're into Twitter or historical fiction, or certainly if you're into both, check out the Twitter chat on historical fiction that will be happening tomorrow. Hosted by Erin Lindsay McCabe, author of the novel "I shall be near to you,", it will take place on Twitter on Tuesday, September 2nd from 9-10pm EST (aka 6-7pm PST), using the hashtag #IShall.

There will be a bunch of book bloggers and historical fiction authors participating, including my own dear spouse Alex Myers, author of "Revolutionary", also found on Twitter at @MyersWriting.

So while this post isn't directly about letter-writing, I can confirm that both "I Shall Be Near to You" and "Revolutionary" include some fine epistolary elements -- and really, nearly all of us who are writers are also enthusiastic readers. So join in that Twitter chat tomorrow night if you're interested!

Check out Erin's blog post for full details of all the participants, plus a couple of helpful tips about how to participate fully.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Vintage sparkly unicorn stickers

Vintage Unicorn stickers

One of my goals for the long weekend (along with writing lots of mail and spending tons of quality time with the kittens) is to list some new items in my etsy shop that I've had for a while now. First one achieved: these Vintage sparkly unicorn stickers.

Vintage Unicorn Stickers (with Stella)

Don't these vintage sparkly unicorn, heart, and rainbow stickers just take you on a journey right back to the 1980s?

The listing includes 2 strips of stickers with 5 perforated squares each. Each square measures roughly 1.5 inches and contains 3 stickers (one unicorn with rainbow mane, one pair of red hearts, one crescent moon in a circle with rainbow stripes), for a total of 30 stickers. (Kitten not included.)

Vintage Unicorn Stickers Close-up

I love these stickers a little too much... I'd better sell some before I use them all up myself!

Vintage sparkly unicorn stickers on etsy

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Letter Writers Alliance Social Sunday

Stella helps with the #lwasocial

The fantastic Letter Writers Alliance Social Sunday is happening right now! Participate in letter-writing all over the world today, and join in the virtual social by posting with the hashtag #lwasocial on Twitter or Flickr. When my kittens are sleeping, I'm joining in - writing, Tweeting, and posting photos of letters (and kittens with letters).

Another great idea from the Letter Writers Alliance - if you join in the social, do say hi to me on Twitter!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Silver lining: kittens Oberon and Stella

Stella kissing Oberon

In July I lost my two amazing and wonderful cats, Soda and Magic. Both were 17 years old and I had them since they were kittens. They were about a month apart in age, I got them both when they were somewhere between 6-10 weeks old, and they died two weeks apart.

July was a devastating month.

We thought we would want to wait before bringing new cats into our lives, but in fact Alex and I were both inconsolable without cats. An empty apartment, devoid of felines, was more grim than I could ever have imagined. I hope it is a tribute to the memory of the love we shared with Magic and Soda that we have brought two 4-month-old kittens into our family and our hearts.


Oberon is a deep and total glossy black...


...and Stella is a "Torbie," a tortoiseshell/tabby mix.

Both are about 4 months old. They are not littermates, Oberon is about one week older than Stella, but they were fostered together and are a deeply bonded pair. They adore each other, groom each other, and even eat and drink out of the same bowls (at the same time!).

It's too soon to say whether or not they'll be mail cats, but I suspect one if not both will be future members of the Feline Postal Brigade. You can count on me for updates on that front!

I haven't been doing much mail lately, in part because of grief over Magic and Soda, and in part because these two adorable kittens have kept my hands full. (Kittens! I'd forgotten how wonderful and time-consuming they are.)

Thanks to everyone for all the cards and words of comfort over the losses of dear Soda and Magic... I can't even express the grief so I will stop trying, but I appreciate the kind expression from animal lovers and caring souls from all corners of the world. I apologize if this sounds maudlin, but it's been a very intense time... and I am so grateful to the new kitten love that Oberon and Stella have brought into our lives.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

DC OutWrite LGBT Book Fair on August 2

BREAKING NEWS: I'll be at the DC Outwrite LGBT Book Fair today - Saturday, August 2 - from 11am-?pm at The DC Center!

I'll be selling my postcards as well as my husband Alex Myers' debut novel, "Revolutionary."

In addition, Alex is participating on a panel discussion, "Writing Trans Characters" at 12pm, and giving a Reading from Revolutionary at 2pm.

If you are in the area, please stop by to say hello! The event is free and open to the public, and is sure to be an extravaganza of writers and readers.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A life without Magic

A life without Magic
Magic P. Katt
March 1997 - July 25, 2014
Sweet stripey wonder-cat, kitty of my heart, rest in peace

We lost our dear, sweet cat Magic on Friday night. She had some seizures earlier in the week, and on Friday she seemed not to recover fully. After an evening of labored breathing when it was clear she was in pain, we once again made that awful final decision to end her suffering.

Sleepy Magic, Sleepy Soda

Her dear companion for 17 years, Soda, died just two and a half weeks earlier. I think Magic wasn't too interested in living life without Soda.

I am just devastated, without my two cat-babies who were with me for 17 years. This apartment without cats is grim indeed. I am still in shock, and can't believe they're both gone.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

On grief, loss, and missing Soda

Rainy Day Soda

Last week I broke the news that Soda, the cat of my heart, was gone. (Today I lost the best cat who ever lived.) Above is one of the last decent photos of her I took, or at least one of the last ones I really love, from late May. Here on this blog I usually posted photos of her on my writing desk or with stationery, but of course she was all over the place so I'm going to share a few of those views now.

Friends, I am grieving very, very hard. I knew I would be devastated when I lost Soda - I have loved all my cats, but she was just that extra-special one, the one who followed me around like a puppy and was my closest furry companion - and indeed I am a wreck. I keep thinking she should be there. Why is she gone? I keep seeing her out of the corner of my eye. I miss her terribly, achingly, constantly. In less conscious moments, I forget she is gone and then I remember. I expect her to be at the door to greet me when I come home. I expect to see her sleeping in her favorite spots.

Backtalk Soda

I expect to hear her meowing! She was an excessively vocal cat, and the apartment is so silent now without her (okay, occasionally very obnoxious) sounds.

One of the very hardest places for me is, in fact, my writing desk. Soda loved to be on my writing desk with me, sprawled out across whatever letter I was trying to read or write. As often as not, whenever I settled myself there, Soda would hop up and join me. I am so touched by the letters of condolence I have received from pen pals who didn't even know her, and I find tears running down my face as I read them at my writing desk and feel Soda's absence most poignantly.

Magic on her scratcher

Last week we had a very rough patch with our remaining beloved cat, Magic. Magic and Soda were not littermates, but I got them as kittens within weeks of one another. Magic came first, by just a couple of weeks. Other than those first weeks, Magic and Soda were together for their entire lives, 17 years. Although they didn't sleep together in their adult years, they would occasionally lick each others' heads; if not the best of buddies, at least the only other cat companions they had known (besides dear wonderful Memo, who was with them from 2001-2011). Who can say whether or not a cat grieves, but Magic did not show much interest in food, water, or the litterbox for a week or so, and was very mopey. She is coming back into herself and showing a bit more liveliness now, which cheers us greatly also.

Soda letter seal

I guess this post doesn't have much to do with letters or mail, and I hope you can forgive me that -- and bear with me as I am pretty low on the mail output (and pretty low in general). I do still have a lot of photo stickers, and a few photo stamps, with Soda's image, and I'm using them in her memory now. I miss my best Feline Postal Brigadier, and grief is a slow and heavy process. Thanks for bearing with me as I share that with you.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Today I lost the best cat who ever lived

Soda oversees another letter
Soda P. Katt
April 1997-July 7, 2014
My best cat, kitty of my heart, rest in peace

I still cannot believe this has happened, but today we had to put down my most amazing, best beloved cat Soda. She was fine yesterday morning, but yesterday afternoon she started a very quick and heart-rending deterioration. It was most likely a blood clot or a tumor. Yesterday afternoon she could not move her hind legs, and by early this morning she could only move her head. She was also clearly suffering, so we made that awful, final decision to end her pain.

Soda was with me for all of her 17 years, since she was a tiny kitten. I cannot believe my constant feline companion is gone. Longtime blog readers will know that Soda was a mail cat extraordinare, charter member of the Feline Postal Brigade, and a frequent "helper" with my letter-writing. I wanted to share this news of her passing with you all, with a plea for understanding that I am absolutely devastated and may lay low from letters and blogging for a while.

A very kind relative asked about donations in Soda's name; I will say that she came to me from the Gifford Cat Shelter, which is a truly wonderful no-kill cat shelter (or, as they say, "sheltering home for cats") that I support wholeheartedly. If you are one of those wonderful souls who is moved to make a donation in her memory, that would be the place both she and I support.

We are down to one cat - the ever shy and retiring Magic, who, while not much of a mail cat, is still a wonderful kitty and a great comfort. (Here's the irony: Magic is the one with health problems; we expected to lose her long before Soda.) She is sad along with us today; while she and Soda were not littermates, they were they same age and spent all but their first weeks of life together. Now I am off to cuddle Magic... please love and appreciate your pets (and all loved ones!) while you have them. You never know when you may lose them.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Postcard Happiness Project: send a postcard, make someone's day

I just learned about a sweet little project that I think my blog readers will love: The Postcard Happiness Project. Here's how they sum it up:
The postcard happiness project is a free initiative that enables us to send postcards to others who could benefit from a little postal kindness. This page is about potential happiness. It’s not meant to make you sad about challenging times. It’s designed to lift your spirits in the knowledge that there’s something small and inexpensive that you can do to lift a stranger’s spirits in a big way somewhere out there.
This is not for people looking for pen pals, it's for those of us who are stalwart senders, who just love to send mail anywhere, everywhere, without thought for a response.

On the Postcard Happiness blog, they post names and stories of people of all ages who need some encouragement. They could be depressed. They could be fighting cancer. They could be bedridden. They could have just suffered an assault. But they all need some brightness in their day, and you can send it in the form of a postcard.

No registration is required, and you can send as many or as few postcards as you'd like. The only cost is the postcard and the stamp. If you love to send mail, and it makes you feel good to make others feel good, go check it out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Meeting a pen pal + mobile Letterpress

Pen pals meet!

So you may have seen my recent post about Alex Myers's reading in Brooklyn last Friday. It was a fantastic reading and a great trip, made even more special because I got to meet a pen pal ALL THE WAY FROM NEW ZEALAND! The lovely Erin Fae is in NYC for the summer to work on The Press Cycle Project: Letterpress on Three Wheels, an amazing traveling letterpress project to bring this special paperful joy to the masses.

Erin braved utterly torrential rain to make it to the reading - we were all half soaked, joking that we had swum there - and Alex took this photo of the two of us after the reading. I wish we had taken more, I wish I could have brought my awesome Letter Writers Alliance bag but I was afraid it would get soaked, I wish the photo of me were better... it is a testament of my love and appreciation for Erin that I post this photo in the first place, because I think she looks gorgeous and I am not so pleased with the photo of myself. BUT! Cross-continental pen pal meetings must be lauded as much as possible, and documented properly. So, voila!

I would also like to share with you Erin's fabulous Press Cycle Project, because even if you are not in NYC, you can still share the joy. (And if you ARE in NYC - may you encounter one of her magical spontaneous cycle-powered printings!) You can read more about it on her Kickstarter page, plus watch the cool studio, but here's the gist: she's building a mobile studio to teach people about letterpress printing, and will make prints on the go. I am a backer, and if you're a letterpress or paper lover (and really, if you're not - why are you reading this?), I'd encourage you to consider supporting her special endeavor... or at the very least, keep up to date on the project via @PressCycle on Twitter.

Her project only has 3 days left on Kickstarter, so don't wait - do it now!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Postcrossing stamp from Belarus

Postcrossing stamp from Belarus

I am so delighted by all the countries worldwide that have started producing postage stamps themed to Postcrossing -- and even more delighted when I receive them!

The latest offering, shown above, is from Belarus, and I am a big fan. I like the cheery letters and bright graphics, and especially the "Happy Postcrossing" wish that so many Postcrossers share with each other on our postcards.

So far I've received other Postcrossing stamps from the Netherlands (which somehow I've never blogged about before!) and Finland... so far, the one from Belarus is my favorite!

Hmm... what do we have to do to get a Postcrossing stamp here in the USA? Something tells me that's not too likely, but perhaps I'm just a pessimist.

Monday, June 9, 2014

In NYC on Friday 6/13?

Are you in or near New York City this weekend? Got no plans for Friday the 13th yet? Then I have a marvelous suggestion for you! My best beloved Alex Myers is reading from his wonderful new novel, Revolutionary at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn. The event is free and open to the public. He'll read from the book and answer questions, and I'll be there enjoying the event, too. Afterwards, along with a book signing, there is a reception with "colonial cocktails." Not sure what that means, but I'm looking forward to giving them a try! If you come by, please do make sure to say hello!

Alex Myers author talk at Old Stone House in Brooklyn, NY - 7pm on Friday, June 13

I promise, a mail-related post is indeed coming soon...

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Essay by Alex Myers on Salon.com this week

alex & ilona

This week my best beloved and husband of 11 years, Alex Myers, had a personal essay published on Salon.com, and it's about the two of us and how we fell in love. It's a touching love story, I am honored to be featured in his writing, and because it does mention letter-writing (!), I just had to share it here. Read the essay here: “Are you a boy or a girl?”: Our trans-bisexual love story. The article used the photo of us shown above, taken at the wedding of friends in September 2012. It's a very personal story, but I am happy to share it, and so proud of the journey Alex and I have taken together.

In other news, if you are in or near New York City and want to hear Alex read from his wonderful new novel, Revolutionary, you can come by the Old Stone House in Brooklyn on Friday, June 13 for an author talk. He'll give a reading and answer questions, and I'll be there enjoying the event, too.

Happy summer, and happy summer letter writing!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

3D dinosaur stamp from South Africa

South Africa 3D dinosaur stamp

Yesterday I received a Postcrossing postcard from South Africa with this AWESOME stamp! I grant you I don't get too much mail from South Africa, so all their stamps are pretty novel to me, but I just had to share this one. It is a dinosaur skeleton displayed in 3D! I wish I had 3D glasses to appreciate it properly. (Where does one find cheap 3D glasses these days, anyway? Like under 5 bucks? I'd buy 'em just to dig this stamp!)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Back in stock: I jump for joy over snail mail!

Jump for joy over snail mail postcard 2

After being sold out of this postcard for over a year, I finally have it back in stock in my etsy shop.

"I jump for joy over snail mail!"

Does a good letter bring you joy? Do you jump up and down with excitement when you pull promising snail mail out of your mail box? Okay, maybe there aren't too many of us who are THAT geeky over mail, but you can show your love of good old fashioned snail mail with this vintage graphic of a girl dancing on a snail. What's not to love?

Along with "I jump for joy over snail mail!", I also have 10 other postcard designs for the postal enthusiast.

May your weekend be filled with good mail!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

An update on "Revolutionary" - thank you for your support!

Revolutionary by Alex Myers, at Politics & Prose

If you've been following this blog for more than a month or two, you know that my best beloved and husband of 11 years, Alex Myers, is an author whose first novel, Revolutionary, was just published by Simon & Schuster in January 2014. I've blogged about it frequently (see posts tagged "Revolutionary"), and then I tried not to crow about it constantly because that becomes tiresome when this blog is about letter-writing, no?

But two reasons have compelled me to share an update:
1. Many of you have been kind enough to ask how the book is doing, and
2. The support from my pen pals and blog readers has been overwhelming, and I want to share my gratitude.

Alex Myers at Politics & Prose, 26 Jan 2013

So let's tackle the updates first. Alex has been doing readings all over the country, to some great audiences. Above, he's shown at the first reading here in Washington, DC, at the fine Politics & Prose bookstore. The book has gotten some very positive press as well, so I just have to share that briefly, too:

There has been more good media coverage including some some radio interviews, and if you're interested in delving deeper, you can find all of that on his website.

Alex Myers at Harvard Bookstore, 31 Jan 2014

Alex also spoke at the excellent Harvard Book Store on January 31 - shown above. (I don't know if you can make it out in this photo size, but he's standing in front of a rack showing stationery supplies: pens and notebooks. I just had to point that out to you, my dear blog readers.) An extra-cool feature of the Harvard Book Store talk is that they recorded it all on video, so if you are interested in seeing Alex read from and talk about the book, check out this video! You can see his wit and charm in action.

And finally, last but possibly most importantly, I owe a debt of gratitude to all of my wonderful blog readers and pen pals who have bought the book, read the book, talked about the book, tweeted about the book, blogged about the book, and generally supported it in innumerable ways! Let me share just a few out there in the blogosphere that you can enjoy, too:

Ambrosia Jefferson wrote a fine review on her blog (and great reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, too!), and her reviews were among the first out there. Thank you, Ambrosia!

Cathy Stewart, the fantastic force behind some fantastic mail, is holding a book club discussion on Revolutionary on her fine blog for independents, Politics 4 the People. She's posted heavily about it there, and another fine pen pal and mail blogger, Postmuse of the Orphaned Postcard Project, wrote An epistolary review of Revolutionary on Cathy's blog. Thank you to Cathy and Bonnie Jeanne! I am sure the Politics 4 the People phone-in book group discussion this coming Sunday is going to be marvelous, and I look forward to overhearing Alex's end of it from here in our apartment.

And thanks to all the readers and writers who are continuing to buy, read, tweet about, and talk up the book. Did you blog about it and I missed your post (or missed acknowledging it)? Let me know in the comments or in an email!

If you're interested in hearing Alex speak or checking out his other writing and activities, do follow him on Facebook; he announces his readings and speaking engagements there, and here's some exciting breaking news: Alex will be sharing some speaking engagements in the future with Erin Lindsay McCabe, author of I Shall Be Near To You.

Finally, I will just note that Revolutionary is available in hardcover and ebook from bookstores in North America and online retailers like Amazon and others.

Thanks for your patience with my long post about my dearly beloved's book, and happy reading and writing to all!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

XOJane's thoughts on how to find a pen pal, and why I haven't been blogging

I'm a little late on the uptake, but I just came across this lovely article on XOJane by Marianne Kirby: "To get a letter, send a letter: where to find a pen pal."

Some of the resources she lists are ones I've heard of and mentioned, but some are new to me, and she does a lovely job of explaining the ebb and flow of letters, and why she always comes back to them. Also, she gives out her PO Box address and offers to write a letter back to anyone who writes to her. Do check out her fine article.

In other news, I suppose it is good news to explain that the reason I haven't been blogging much lately is because I've been writing lots of letters. The 5-year-old son of my cousin is newly a mail devotee, and he writes me almost daily... I've been trying to keep up with him, and sending him letters and postcards almost daily, too! Whew. It's exhausting but exciting work to mentor the epistolary aficionados of the future. Also, his dad (my cousin) is writing letters to me, too (generally in the same envelope), and that brings back some great memories. His dad and I used to write each other pretty frequently, back in the days before email had overtaken the world, and it's delightful to take up that habit again with him. Oh, and I've been trying to keep up with all my other letters, too... though I've long since made my peace with the fact that I'll never really catch up. That's okay. I enjoy trying.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bats and cats... and hands


I received this odd little gem via Postcrossing recently. The sender noted I liked both bats and cats - and oh, I do! I do! - and that I might be especially fond of them in combination. Indeed! This was RU-2324265 from Russia. Granted, they're not real cats or real bats, but I like the fanciful intersection of photography, craft, and illustration. And what's with the hands? I don't know, but I think they're kind of creepy cool.

This is why I keep on Postcrossing year after year (I've been Postcrossing for more than 7 years now) - all these fantastic little surprises in my mailbox.

Monday, February 24, 2014

New postage rates for 2014

For my USA readers: postage rates changed on January 26, 2014. Yes, I am a month late announcing this news here on Ye Olde Blogge, but I hope this fabulous graphic makes it worth the wait. Thank you to Donovan of the Letter Writers Alliance for sharing this lovely image detailing the new rates, and for making it Creative Commons licensed so we can all share the love; you can see her full post here.

Here's the breakdown of the new rates, for sending letters and postcards:

  • Postcards within USA – 34 cents
  • Letters within USA (up to 1 oz.) – 49 cents*
  • Letters within USA (1-2 oz.) – 70 cents
  • Letters additional ounces – 21 cents
  • International letters and postcards – $1.15

    *Oddly enough, metered letters are 48 cents instead of 49 cents. But isn't a stamp prettier than that ugly meter label, and worth another penny?
  • Sunday, February 23, 2014

    Postcrossing: multiple accounts unwelcome

    I have blogged before about the phenomenon of some Postcrossing users having more than one account, and my frustrations and mixed feelings around that situation. (Since my aforementioned blog post was more than 2 years ago, I'll lay your questions to rest: no, of course not, I never created a second account and have only the one Postcrossing account, as I feel pretty strongly about this.) I've just come across this wonderful answer in the Postcrossing FAQs about this matter:

    Can I have more than one account?

    Spoiler: the boldface leading sentence reads "Postcrossing does not welcome multiple accounts per person," and then goes on to explain the reasoning in a very logical and thoughtful manner.

    Hear, hear.

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

    Postcard signed by Inge Löök


    Another lovely Postcrossing surprise came to me recently: an Inge Löök "old ladies" postcard, signed by the author herself! Inge Löök is a Finnish artist, and I am a big fan of her illustrations, especially the joyous old ladies.

    Inge Look signed postcard

    No, she herself didn't send this to me, but a Finnish postcrosser had the postcard signed by the illustrator, and sent it to me throughPostcrossing. It came to me as FI-1978556.