Friday, February 27, 2009

Movies about Letter Writing

A quick search on the Internet shows me that there are several movies about letter writing, but I only remember seeing one...The Love Letter...the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie.

It's about a modern-day man who finds a Civil War-era letter in an old desk. The letter was written by a young woman about 130 years earlier, but somehow they are able to send letters back and forth to each other. Of course, I'm a long-time "Somewhere in Time" fan, so I liked the movie.

Who can tell me about other letter-writing movies? What should I seek out and watch? What's your favorite movie about letter writing?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Demise of hotel/motel stationery

Last month, our little family took a little trip to Little Rock, Arkansas, and stayed in a couple of motels during our short trip. When we travel, the first thing my daughter does when we get to a motel/hotel room is look in all the drawers. Then, she unpacks everything, even for a one-night stay.

This trip, one thing was obvious, there was no stationery in the bedside drawers. Now, I'll admit, we weren't staying in the ritziest places, but once upon a time, just about every motel and hotel had some type of writing paper and envelopes in each room.

I'm sure the nicer places may still supply their guests with stationery, but even the last higher-end hotel we stayed in had only a few sheets of been-there-a-while paper.

I guess we've traded fancy hotel stationery for free wi-fi and Internet access.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A reason for writing

And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart,
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?

-- From Night Mail by W.H. Auden, written for a 1936 documentary film about the train that brought the mail from England to Scotland

Let not anyone in your life feel forgotten....write a letter today!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Encouraging young letter writers

After I wrote yesterday's post, I got to thinking about how to encourage kids to write letters. Oh, I'm not anti-email or anti-texting...I just think that there's some value to knowing how to write a "real" letter, some joy in receiving a piece of snail mail, some satisfaction in dropping an envelope in a mailbox.

The best way to encourage kids to write letters is to write to them first. Write a letter to your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, cousins, etc.

Try to make the letters meaningful, something they'll want to keep and re-read. Congratulate them on a recent accomplishment, tell them how proud you are. Then, add in a little something about yourself, maybe mention how you enjoyed playing basketball, too, when you were in school, or maybe how you always struggled with math but that once you took geometry, you really enjoyed it. Ask them some questions, something to reply back to. Maybe ask about their pet or their plans for the summer.

Speaking of replies, one way to encourage the kids you're writing to, to write you back is to send them stationery. With your letter, include a piece of stationery, an envelope addressed to yourself and even a stamp. Find or make some fun note paper and envelopes, depending on the age of the child you're writing to. (See the fun envelopes I made, at left.) Don't forget...stamps can be fun, too! If your local post office doesn't have the ones you want, order them online.

Another way to make letter writing fun is to send postcards from places you visit. You might encourage a new hobby — postcard collecting, stamp collecting, etc. — as well.

Now, go write a letter (or two)!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Next generation of letter writers

I'm the leader of my daughter's Brownie Girl Scout troop, and we've been working on the new badges that the organization has developed. The latest step in our project was to study the concept of "connect" — how we connect with each other. We played some games, such as having a three-legged race, etc. But, I wasn't sure I was getting the point across about how we connect with the others around us, the people in our lives.

Then, I thought of letter writing! Well, nowadays, I think of letter writing all of the time, it seems. But, I thought of it in terms of a Girl Scout meeting this time.

So, I started out the meeting by having the girls pick out stickers that represent something about them and their lives. We have a big box of stickers that was donated to our troop, so the girls always have great fun digging through all the stickers. Some picked out animals for their various pets; others chose peace signs, religious symbols, pictures of food, whatever was of interest to them. Then, they all told why they picked out the stickers they did.

Then, I started the discussion about how we connect with other people. They're just in the third grade, but they caught on quickly.

As many of us would expect, they listed off many electronic ways of connecting with people....e-mail, text messaging, instant messaging, cell phone, etc. Finally, one little girl (not my daughter, who is very familiar with letter writing) thought of "writing letters"!

So, we talked a little bit about writing letters, and the girls decorated some lined paper with the stickers they picked out.

We've been distracted for a couple of weeks with our annual Girl Scout Cookie sale, but we'll be back on track soon, and the girls will write some letters that we'll mail out. They already have some ideas about who they want to write...a little girl who recently moved away from our community, the Obama girls, grandparents...

I'm happy to pass along the craft of letter writing to a new generation!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Here's another one!

I woke up with the words "getting cards and letters from people I don't even know..." playing in my head. And, I thought, "'Rhinestone Cowboy'! There's another song with lyrics about letters!"

Oh, yes, I admit it...I know the words to Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy." If you're not familiar with the 1970s song written by Larry Weiss, you can hear it on Glen Campbell's MySpace page.

Another letter song is Collin Raye's "Love, Me." It's about a grandpa who carries around a letter that the grandma wrote him years ago, and many lyrics sites online refer to it as "If You Get There Before I Do." It was written by Skip Ewing and Max T. Barnes. It starts out, "I read a note my grandma wrote back in nineteen twenty-three.
Grandpa kept it in his coat, and he showed it once to me."

I wonder how many love letters were sent and received last week...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mail Art

This weekend, I was reading "Somerset Studio" magazine. I'm always fascinated by the pictures of the letters they receive. The envelopes are so beautifully decorated. I'm usually in such a rush to get my letters to the mailbox, that I just send them off with nothing more than "to" and "from" addresses and a stamp.

The particular magazine I was reading also had an article about "Mail Art," something I was only vaguely familiar with. So, I did a little research and found some interesting links:

Dragonfly Dream
Pan Modern
Mail Me Art
Mail Art

There are many more sites out there about this interesting form of art and correspondence. Maybe I need to make my envelopes more exciting!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A letter from a new-found friend and a feature

Not long after I started this blog, April commented on one of my posts and suggested that we exchange letters. So, an e-mail or two back and forth, and my letter was on its way to California.

Last week, I received my first letter from April, along with a photo of their family and a very special gift of some very beautiful earrings (see the photo). April told me a little about her life and family. She has a couple of blogs, Double Happiness and Secondsister Suaviloquy. She also has an Etsy site where she sells her beautiful jewelry, SecondSister. Be sure to stop by her blogs and her shop!

* * * *

Another blogger favorite of mine, Tameka at Tea and Honey Bread and The Buzz has posted a feature on this 365 Letters blog on The Buzz. If you'll look through her archives, you can read profiles on many other artists, too! This month she also posted a collection of her favorites from Etsy in honor of Black History Month -- it's a wonderful selection! Be sure to visit her Etsy shop, Pretty in Peace, too.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pens and paper and cards!

One thing that seems to be common among letter writers is our love for all the trappings that go with writing letters...the paper, the pens, the envelopes, the stamps...and the cards, oh my, the cards! It's all just so much fun!

I have my favorite pens, including a silver Parker pen that I gave to my grandmother and then I inherited after she passed away. No one else likes to write with it because it's skinny and slick; they think it's hard to hold, but I never have a problem with it. I don't like rollerball pens; I never can get the ink to flow smoothly. But, I do love a good fountain pen. Problem is, right now, my fountain pen leaks ink, and I haven't figured out out to solve the problem yet.

On the other hand, I also find it hard to pass up fun pens. In my purse, I have the Parker pen and a collection of very inexpensive colored pens. And, just yesterday, I splurged and bought a large package of multi-colored Sharpie brand pens. I don't yet know what I'll do with them, but I couldn't resist the "Limited Edition Cafe Colors"! Who can walk past pens with names like "Earl Gray" "Pomegranate" and "Mocha"?

And, the paper. Oh boy do I have paper! I'm hoping this 365 Letters project will help me whittle down my stationery collection. I have lined paper, plain paper, hotel stationery from places I've never even been, special "onion skin" paper I bought way back in high school when I had all the overseas penpals and needed thin paper to cut down on postage costs. I haven't bought stationery in years, yet, still, my paper and card collection fills to overflowing a large under-the-bed box!

Speaking of cards...who can resist them? I have the standard greeting cards — Happy Birthday, Hope You're Feeling Better, Sorry I Missed Your Birthday, etc. And, then I have notecards, blank cards with pictures or drawings on the front and lots of room to write on the inside. And, just in case I ever run out of decorated notecards, I have plenty of really blank ones that are just waiting for me to decorate.

I'd say envelopes are the least exciting part of my letter-writing paraphernalia. When I was a teenager, I worked for American Greetings, keeping up the card rack at a retail store. When cards were damaged, lost or stolen, the envelopes were left over, so I built up quite a collection of odd-sized envelopes. Nowadays, my daughter and I enjoy making our own envelopes from magazine covers, calendar pages, old books and even yellow legal pad pages.

Hopefully by the end of this year, I'll have used up quite a bit of all this stuff...then I'll go shopping for more!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Blog mentions

I just noticed that a couple of fellow bloggers and letter writers have mentioned me on their blogs. How great it is to be making new friends and encouraging others to write letters!

Check it out:


A Passion For Letter Writing


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My worries and an update

As I'm writing these letters and sending them out, I include a little note with each letter that lets the recipient know about this project and this blog. But, then, I get a little worried that my friends and/or family members are going to think that I'm only writing to them because of the project.

In fact, it's the other way around. I'm doing the project because of my commitment to keep in touch with my friends and family.

It seems that every late-December, early January, I vow to write more letters, send more cards in the coming year. And, I may get a letter or two sent off, and then everyday life gets in the way and my letter writing tapers off.

I think about these people all the time, wondering what ever happened to friends from elementary school or the old Girl Scout troop. I may even make an effort to track some of them down, using all sorts of Internet resources to try and figure out married names and current addresses. But, I usually fail to write the letters. I just never get around to it.

So, I thought that by setting a definite goal, making it trackable and making it public, I would be more motivated to stay on task. I worry that some of my "old" friends are going to think, "Carla hasn't contacted me in years, now she's just writing to me to meet her 365 goal." I worry about that, but I hope that somehow they'll know that it's not that way at all. I've been planning to write the letters for years, often working out the details of the never-sent letters in my mind as I drive to work.

From my perspective, it's working. I'm getting letters written and sent out, and the replies are starting to come in. I'm in touch with people I haven't heard from in years, except for an occasional Christmas card.

As far as the project itself is going, I'm on track. I'll send out the 34th letter today. And, I still have a long list of people I plan to write letters to!

Won't you join me in my project...write a letter today!
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