Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hemingway letters revealed to public

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has made available to the public 15  letters written by author Ernest Hemingway to his close friend Gianfranco Ivancich. 

You can read about the letters at the JFK Library website or  in this Associated Press article.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Letter from the Titanic

In the news this week has been a story about the mapping of the ocean floor where the Titanic sunk almost 100 years ago.

Then, today, I came across a story on the British newspaper website The Mirror Online about a letter written by an 11-year-old girl who was on the ship. She and her family disembarked before the ship struck the iceberg and sank, so her story has a happy ending.

You can read the entire story about the voyage, the letter and where it is now — you can even see a photo of the original letter — on The Mirror's site.

The Titanic

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Out of Ink!

I'm not really a fan of gel pens, but a while back, I bought a package of Pilot G-2 07 (Fine Point) purple pens. I don't normally like gel pens because they don't write well for me. Whether it's the pens or my writing style, they tend to leak and/or skip.

But, I wanted a purple pen. And, I liked the fact that the G-2 was retractable. In the past, I've had trouble with gel pens drying out after I lost the top to them. And, I love fine-point pens. So, I tried the G-2, and I loved it!

It has a clip on it, so I can attach it to a notebook. It's retractable, so it doesn't dry out, and it doesn't get ink on other things in my purse. And, the purple ink is just cool.

I rarely "use up" a pen, especially a ball point or gel pen. Usually, I lose them or they dry up.

But, today at lunch, while I was jotting down some ideas, my favorite pen — the purple Pilot G-2 07 ran out of ink.

I think I bought a package of two pens. Now, I'll have to look around for that other pen. Or, go shopping for more.

How about you? Do you have a favorite pen? Do you keep extras on hand? Tell me about it!

Letter Writing Topics

If you are new to letter writing or have recently set a goal to write more letters or are a regular letter writer who sometimes suffers from writer's block, you might sometimes find yourself at a loss for what to write about in a letter.

Each letter is unique, and it's contents depend upon the recipient and what's going on in your life.

For example, if you're writing to a longtime friend or a close relative, your letter may be chatty and read as if you started in the middle of a conversation. It may make reference to events from your past or to conversations you've had before. You might ask about mutual friends/relatives, share personal news, etc.

If you're writing to a new penpal, you'll be more introductory, offering up bits of information about yourself without telling your whole story all at once. You'll probably ask lots of questions, too, hoping for a letter in response.

Even experienced letter writers may find it difficult to write certain types of letters, such a condolence letters or even letters of support. In those cases, your best solution is to take the time to think through the letter. Make sure you're saying what you really want to say. If it's an especially difficult letter, set it aside for a few hours or even a day or two, if you have the time to spare, and re-read it, re-writing it, if necessary.

If you need some quick letter writing topics, consider a few of these:
* The weather
* History of your town
* What you did today
* Your surroundings
* Your dreams for the future
* Your most cherished memory
* Your favorite food
* Your dream vacation
* Your pet or the one you wish you had
* Opinions on a current political topic

Now, "I don't know what to write about" isn't an excuse! Go write that letter!

(Clipart courtesy of

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

National Postal Museum celebrating women

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum has an online exhibit honoring Women's History Month this month.

The Women in the Postal Service and Philately online resource has a list of links to previous postings about women. Included is a four-part series titled "Women on Stamps." There's also a segment on Emilia Earhart's transatlantic mail, Mary Katherine Goddard, the 1775 Baltimore postmaster and more.

Life-changing letters

Have you ever received a letter that changed your life or at least greatly influenced it?

A story by John Pope on the New Orleans, Louisiana, Times-Picayune newspaper website focuses on William Goldring, the recipient of the 2012 Loving Cup award, given by the newspaper to someone who has "worked unselfishly for the community without expectation of public recognition or material reward."

According to the story, in 1964, when Goldring was about to turn 21, his parents wrote him a letter reminding him that the wealth he was born into brought responsibility. The story quotes the letter: 
"Intelligent use of wealth can bring power and happiness, not only to you, but to many. Wealth can also bring you much happiness and satisfaction by helping others. ... As you get older, you must serve your community."
The article goes on to detail Goldring's many charitable projects. You can read all about it here.

In another newspaper article, it was Chris Hsu's letter to the editor that made a difference. And, while it may not have changed his life, it certainly seems to have shook up his day somewhat.

According to the story by Faimon A. Roberts III on the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, newspaper The Advocate website, the 82-year-old retired Louisiana School for the Deaf teacher had a letter to the editor published on Jan. 12 about the unrest in Syria. That letter brought Hsu a visit from a couple of FBI agents who were interested in his knowledge illustrated in the letter. By the end of the visit, they tried to recruit him. but he declined the offer. (Read the entire story by clicking on the link in this paragraph.)

I can't really pinpoint a specific letter that changed my life dramatically. But, I would say that over the course of some 40 years or more, letters have inspired and encouraged, as well as entertained, me through life's ups and downs.

How about you? Have you had a life-changing, or even a day-changing, letter? Tell us about it!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Letters for Japan

I saw an article from Saturday's Biloxi, Mississippi, newspaper, The Sun Herald, about a campaign started by CNN correspondent Kathleen Koch to send letters of support to survivors of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan almost a year ago. She named the effort Words of Hope for Japan.

Although the project was schedule to end on the one-year anniversary of the disaster, the article states that Koch will continue to translate and send to Japan any letters that she sees.

You can read the article here. There's also a Facebook page with updates (you can see much of the Facebook page, including photos of many of the letters, even if you don't have a Facebook account. Just click on that link and take a look).

According to the information about the project, anyone can participate - adults, children, groups. All letters will be translated, shipped free of charge to Japan by UPS and delivered to evacuees by the Japanese American Citizens League of Tokyo. Schools, churches, scout troops and other organizations as well as individuals can provide that hope simply by writing a letter sharing concern and encouragement. Children who can’t write can draw pictures. What is important is to do something to brighten the lives of the survivors and reassure them that they are not alone.

Write to: Words of Hope for Japan
P.O. Box 636
Fulton, MD 20759

Beautiful New Stamps

The U.S. Postal Service recently introduced three new beautiful stamps featuring scenes from across America. One is a First Class Forever postage stamp for mailing letters. The other two are for Priority and Express mail.

The First Class stamp marks the celebration of Arizona's 100th birthday. Arizona became the 48th state in the U.S. in 1912, the last of the contiguous states to enter the union.

The stamp features artwork by Ed Mell, a native of Phoenix. Well known for his distinctive modernist renderings of the Southwest desert landscape, Mell applies this approach to his portrayal of Cathedral Rock, one of the colorful and much admired sandstone rock formations of Sedona, Arizona.

The U.S. Postal Service recognized another celebration — 25th anniversary of Florida’s Sunshine Skyway Bridge — by issuing the $5.15 Sunshine Skyway Bridge Priority Mail stamp. The stamp, designed by Carl T. Hermann of North Las Vegas, NV, showcases a digital illustration created by artist Dan Cosgrove of Chicago, IL. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge Pre-Stamped Priority Mail Envelope is being issued at the $5.15 rate. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge Priority Mail stamp is being issued singly, in blocks of four or 10 and in self-adhesive sheets of 20 at the $5.15 rate or $103 per sheet.

On the other side of the country, in California, the U.S.P.S. released a stamp honoring the Carmel Mission, founded in 1770 as Mission San Carlos Borroméo del Río Carmelo. The stamp is an Express Mail stamp, priced at $18.95 each. It is available as a single stamp, in a block of four or a sheet of 10.

The Carmel Mission stamp was designed by art director Phil Jordan of Falls Church, Virginia., and features an illustration of the mission in Carmel, California, by artist Dan Cosgrove of Chicago, Illinois. The artwork depicts the façade of Carmel Mission with its dome-shaped bell tower and elaborate star-shaped window.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Connecting with Others

When you have some time, click over to Dana's Save Snail Mail blog and read this post:  Connect with Others.  Not only has Dana written an interesting piece, but the post includes three videos that are well worth the time you'll spend watching them. It's thought-provoking, to say the least.

Mailbox Book

If you love to write and receive letters, you probably have some interest in mailboxes. And, if you create or even just appreciate the elaborately decorated envelopes of mail art, then you might enjoy Tyre and Jane Yancey's newly published book, "RFD Fok Art: A Tour of Shenandoah Valley Mailboxes."

The couple have traveled around rural Virginia, taking photographs of the interesting mailboxes they see. The 94-page book includes more than 300 color photos of colorful mailboxes.

Their blog shows a photo of a mailbox with a 7-foot tall eagle attached to it. The blog also has links to newspaper articles about the book. There's an email address on the blog, in case you want to contact them about buying a copy of the book.

It looks like a fun project!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Letter Writing Blog

I recently discovered The 52 Letters Project, created by freelance writer JoAnna Haugen. She started the letter-a-week project at the beginning of this year.

According to the Project Details page of her blog, JoAnna says, "Despite what many people suggest, I refuse to believe that the handwritten word is dead. It is with this in mind that I’ve decided to rekindle my love of letter writing by chronicling 52 weeks of writing 52 letters to 52 different people."

She's up to letter #9, and each post includes a photo of the letter and/or the envelope she's mailing. Additionally, each post tells a story about the recipient and how she's knows him or her.

It's a great blog, and I look forward to following JoAnna's letter writing project.

Stop by her blog for a visit!
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