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Peaches

On Saturday I bought peaches at the farmers’ market.  They were juicy ripe and everything fresh local peaches should be.

peaches

When I approached White Marsh Orchard‘s table, I was surprised to be greeted by name.  This isn’t an unusual occurrence in my small town, but I didn’t remember the orchard owners knowing my name last summer.

Then she said, “It was so lovely to get your note,” and he chimed in, “Really thoughtful of you.”

And I suddenly remembered that last fall, when reflecting with some sadness that peaches wouldn’t be in season again for many months, I had been inspired to look up the orchard’s address so I could write and say how much I enjoyed their peaches all summer.  I’d signed my name, of course, and made mention of my red market basket so they’d have a clue who I was.

They clearly figured it out.

We talked a couple minutes about our mutual appreciation of both peaches and real letters.  It got me thinking (not for the first time) about making the choice to express appreciation and what a positive impact it can have.  As a result, I’m challenging myself to write more notes of thanks for the little things that make life better.

What are you enjoying these days?  Do you ever send unexpected thank you notes?

A few days before the new year, my grandmother made the difficult decision to go on Hospice care.  As a result, January has been a time of mixed sadness and lovely moments and gratitude for family and reminiscing.  I’ve been fortunate to be able to visit with my grandmother nearly every week since the end of December, but one day out of seven hasn’t felt like enough.  So, I’ve been writing letters to her.  Not every day, but more days than not, I’ve mailed off postcards, cards, and letters most of which have recounted memories of visiting her house over the years.  She’s been enjoying receiving them, I’ve been enjoying writing them, and they’ve sparked points of connection that extend beyond the two of us.  A couple weeks ago when I was visiting, a cousin of mine told me that she’d read one of my letters in which I’d described the things in our grandmother’s front hallway that I’d loved when I was growing up.  She said it was like reading something she’d written, because her childhood memories of the points of interest in that hallway are very similar to mine.  Upon hearing this, my grandmother beamed at us and said how nice it was for everyone to be able to share memories and get to know each other better at the same time.  Isn’t that a lovely truth?

January was a beautiful month of letters for me personally.

February, as you may know, is A Month of Letters in a much larger way.

LetterMo2014square

In past years, while this brainchild of Mary Robinette Kowal has inspired me to sit down to letter writing more consistently, I’ve never quite met the challenge of sending a letter each day the mail runs in February.  This year, I think it’s going to happen.  As well as continuing to write to my grandmother, I plan to write reminiscing letters to other people who are dear to me.  And, in keeping with the rules of the challenge, I’ll catch up–and keep caught up–on my replies, too.

In preparation for A Month of Letters, I’ve spent part of this afternoon sorting out my stack of letters awaiting responses and organizing my writing supplies (they’d fallen into a rather catawampus state).  I unlocked my first two achievements and I’m ready to fill the month with letters.  Anyone else playing along this year?

Merry and Bright

May your day be merry and bright!

photo courtesy of bowenmurphy (and thanks to LWA for mentioning it was available)

I have a collection of things that are waiting to be glued.  Not broken items waiting to be fixed, but bits and pieces waiting to be cobbled into something new.  More accurately, I have several collections of such things: canceled stamps, old photos, quotations cut from magazines, pages from books that have fallen apart, scraps of colorful paper, fabric remnants, buttons.

Sometime in October, I covered the floor with several of these collections (there is, again, a sewing machine on my desk) and plunked myself down in the middle of all the possibilities with glue stick in hand.  Over the course of several days, I made about two dozen cards.  I used a couple to write to friends, but most I bundled into sets to be given as gifts.

cards2

cards1

cards3

cards4

This weekend I put the sewing machine to good use and made a scarf.

scarf

Between the cards and the scarf, I’ve checked off nearly everyone on my Champion of Postal Cheer project list — hooray!  What’s my next project?  I’m not certain.  Janice MacLeod, the artist behind Paris Letters, recently wrote about her November Nurture project and it sparked a couple possibilities that I’m considering.  What creative projects–letter-writing or otherwise–are you enjoying these days?

BYOPOB

This is Sanzi.

Sanzi
I met her last month at the Chestertown Book Festival.

As you can see, she brought her own mailbox with her.

Sanzi's POB

Next to the mailbox, she had a basket full of self-addressed postcards.  She was inviting people to take them and write to her as part of an ongoing postal project she’s been running for the past decade.  Did you notice the large and wonderfully folded creations at the front of the table in the first picture?  They are collapsible books composed of series of postcards she has received.  When the postcards arrive, she sorts, scans, arranges, and finally prints the compiled collections.  For more information about this project, take a look at the Installations section of Sanzi’s online galleries.

Sanzi said that when she was living in England she had many more people participate in the project than she does now that she’s in the U.S.  I asked if I could take a few extra postcards and give them to people who would be interested in dropping her a note (or sketch or painting or poem or piece of mail art…).  I have three left and want to share!  If you’re interested, leave a comment by Friday, November 1st.  If more than three people are interested, I’ll toss the names into a hat.  If your name is drawn, I’ll mail you one of the postcards, along with some mystery postal goodies from my own collection.  You will then complete the circle by sending Sanzi’s postcard home.  Deal?  Excellent — let the creative collaboration begin!

Chestertown’s first Type-In & Letter Writing Social was a rousing event.  The second iteration was a more subdued affair with fewer participants, but no less enthusiasm.  The thing is, people love the nostalgia of being reminded about and the novelty of being introduced to typewriters and letter writing.  As with our first event, the age range of participants spanned about eight decades.

Here is a quick look into the morning:

To encourage those who hadn't written a letter recently, I put together some ideas for getting started and some guidance on postage rates.  (You can download PDFs of these pages from Scribbling Glue's Downloadables page.)

To encourage those who hadn’t written a letter recently, I put together some ideas for getting started and some guidance on postage rates.
(You can download PDFs of these pages from Scribbling Glue’s Downloadables page.)

Underwood

Four typewriters ready and waiting to compose.

Typewriter Tips

Lindsay made a tip sheet for each typewriter, explaining its particular quirks of typography and operation.
(“Note: R to L” is a note to herself about which way to wind the ribbon to ensure smooth sailing in case it needed to be replaced mid-event.  Isn’t she clever?)

Typists

At several different points, all four typewriters were clattering away together. The youngest typist in this photo really got into the process and produced a lengthy note to send to a friend.

Mailart sisters

Three sisters and their mom making art and envelopes together.

Stamped & Sealed

Stamped, sealed, and ready to send.

More to come about the Chestertown Book Festival and what I found there…

It’s almost time!

This type-in and letter-writing social is a creative collaboration between Thread Lock Press, typewriter-enthusiast and letterpress printer, and Scribbling Glue, letter-writing champion and envelope-pusher. They are out to reintroduce people to old techniques for creating new and improbable connections.

- event mission statement for Chestertown’s Type-In and Letter Writing Social, Round 2

In anticipation, Lindsay and I got together this week to finish prepping envelopes.  Due to the time and space constraints that come along with presenting this event at the Chestertown Book Festival, we decided to pre-cut handmade envelopes so people can assemble and embellish without having to start completely from scratch.  The result of our flurry of cutting is that we have 70+ envelopes just waiting to be filled with literary musings and bookish thoughts by Book Festival attendees who find the sound of clattering typewriters sufficiently distracting to wander away from the Bookmakers and Writers Exhibition Hall long enough to record their own thoughts to be sealed, stamped, and sent.

From animals and trains to sunsets and fairy tales, there will be a wide variety of envelopes available.

From animals, trains, and nuns to sunsets, fairy tales, and airplanes, a wide variety of envelopes will be available to suit different moods and strike proper tones.

 

We hope to see you there!