Friday, June 30, 2017

Looking for something to do? Write a letter!

From what I can see, based on today's weather forecast, much of the U.S. is expected to experience warm temperatures this summer day, with highs ranging from the upper 80s to more than 110 degrees (F) for much of the country, especially the west, southwest and southeast. Many of the areas that aren't forecast for hot weather likely are expecting storms, or at least rain today. And, it's not just in the U.S. that it's a hot summer.  I'm getting reports from Postcrossing participants -- via their postcards and comments on the postcards I send them -- that it's quite warm in parts of Europe and Asia, as well.

What I'm getting at is that if you end up spending time indoors today to escape the heat or the storms -- or cold in the southern hemisphere -- this is a great time to write a letter or two. Banish the boredom of summer by reaching out to the world with a handwritten note or postcard.

And, if the weather is nice enough, find yourself a comfortable spot outside and get to writing!

What to write about? Write about the weather, your plans, your dreams, your day...just write!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Reminder for U.S. residents

Don't Tuesday the United States will celebrate Independence Day, and mail will not be delivered or picked up by the U.S. Postal Service. It's a federal holiday, and there will be no mail service on Tuesday, July 4. So, mail your letters early and/or expect a slight delay.

Happy letter writing!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Letters to Soldiers -- Past and Present

From the Amarillo Globe-News
This past weekend, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas, hosted a letter writing event in conjunction with its exhibit “The Great War and the Panhandle-Plains Region.”

The story caught my attention because of the letter writing aspect but also because I visited that museum a time or two as a kid. We lived about an hour away.

According to Lisa Lamb’s article on the Amarillo Globe-News’ website, there were two parts to the Saturday event. Area residents brought their World War I memorabilia to be considered for inclusion in the museum’s collection, and a program on Letters From Home highlighted the importance of letter writing during World War I. Additionally, visitors had the opportunity to write a letter to today’s U.S. military members through the Operation Gratitude project.

After reading that story, I tracked down Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit organization in California. The group’s online media kit says that they send care packages and letters of support to individual soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines deployed in harm’s way, to their children left behind, and to first responders, veterans, new recruits, military families, wounded heroes and their caregivers. Starting in 2003, they have sent 1,784,080 care packages so far.

Those care packages include a variety of items, including letters. According to the Operation Gratitude website, they have sent 5 million hand-written letters. That’s a lot of letters!

You can read more about Operation Gratitude and how you can become involved on the organization’s website.

It sounds like a good project that letter writers will enjoy!

Friday, June 23, 2017

A column about letters and a letter about the column

Last week, Lana Sweeten-Shults, a writer and editor for the Wichita Falls Times Record News, wrote a column about letter writing, and my friend Laura alerted me, knowing how interested I would be.

The column focused on her kids and how she came to realize that they didn't know how to write letters -- or postcards -- and her mission to remedy that situation.

She steps back in time to when she was a young girl, writing to her penpal, sending off for photos of celebrities and writing to her sister who was in the Army. You can read the column on the Times Record News' website at

Sweeten-Shults' column inspired a letter to the editor by a reader who reminisced about letter writing and other topics. In his letter, Joseph E. Whalen, Jr. of Wichita Falls suggests that people who protest things might see better results if they wrote letters instead.

As we head into this weekend, let's take Lana and Joseph's advice and write some letters. Write about whatever strikes your fancy. Write to complain; write to say "wish you were here"; write to say "I miss you."

Happy letterwriting!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Letter Writing Project Benefits Students and Chicago Organization

To me, one of the fun and wondrous things about life -- and the internet -- is how one thing leads to another and another and before long you have learned something new and fascinating.

I started out researching a story about letter writing. I came across an article on the Chicago Reader website about two Chicago school classes that wrote letters to each other. The story not only detailed how the students got to know their letter-writing partners, but it also explained that the project culminated in the publishing of a book featuring some of their letters.

As I looked up more information about the book, I discovered 826CHI, a nonprofit organization that provides free writing and tutoring programs for Chicago students. Not only does the organization have workshops, field trips and in-school projects, it also has a publishing department that prints and binds students' works into books that are sold at The Secret Agent Supply Co., a shop in Chicago that benefits 826CHI.

The letter-related book is titled "P.S. You Sound Like Someone I Can Trust," a line taken directly from one student's letter. You can order the book online at The Secret Agent Supply Co.  

You can read more about 826CHI and all of their programs, including a gallery of student writing, at the organization's website.

And, you can read the entire article about the letter writing project on the Chicago Reader.

According to the article, each year 826CHI has a unique project, so this letter writing program was a one-time event. But, that's not to stop anyone else from creating a similar program between two school classes. Such a project could teach handwriting, business skills, writing/English skills, as well as the basics of how to write and mail a letter, and much more, I'm sure. It could be done with or without the book. But, if a group wanted to publish a book of their letters, a quick print or print-on-demand service could handle it inexpensively.

I certainly hope the idea spreads and more and more young people learn the joys of letter writing!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

My kind of soft drink!

My husband found this Dr Pepper bottle featuring postage stamps. It appears to be a part of the "Pick Your Pepper" promotion the soft drink company first launched last year to celebrate self-expression.

According to a news release last summer, the hundreds of unique designs were inspired by "various millennial passion point categories." That must mean that stamps -- and maybe letter writing, snail mail, analog communications, etc. -- are still relevant and interesting!

Other designs include unicorns, fireworks, cassette tapes and many more. Have you seen one yet?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Outgoing mail

I got up bright and early this morning and wrote four postcards to members. Are you a member of Postcrossing? It's a great way to connect with people all over the world! Check it out if you love sending and receiving postcards. Some Postcrosing participants are interested in "direct swaps" and/or regular letter writing, but not all are.

I'm also sending out a letter to a friend today. I love using vintage (never used, of course) stamps!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday morning roundup of articles about letter writing

From the Irish News
Here's a Monday morning roundup of recent stories in the news about letter writing. Enjoy!

Penpals meet in Boulder, Colorado, for the first time after corresponding for 60 years. Read the story in the Boulder Daily Camera.

A letter collector writes about the joys of letters. Read the story in the Irish News.

Some celebrity penpals are strange pairings. Read more in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Three writers pen the letters they never wrote but wish they had. From the Belfast Telegraph.

Friday, June 9, 2017

To write or not to write about politics

There seems to be quite a bit of political turbulence world-wide nowadays, and I'm curious if people who have international penpals discuss politics in their correspondence.

I would have to say that I usually don't write about politics in my letters, mostly because I'm not very confrontational, and I don't want to offend anyone. But, I'm happy to answer questions from my penpals, even offer up my opinion, if I'm asked for it.

I think that the longer a correspondence continues, the more likely penpals are to write about such matters. Once they get to know each other better, through their letters, they are more comfortable being open and honest about things like that.

How about you? Do you write about politics or any other controversial topic in your letters?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Letter writing finds a new generation of fans

From the Grand Haven Tribune.
Thanks to two Michigan school teachers -- who just happen to be mother and daughter -- a new generation has discovered the joys of letter writing.

According to the story in the Grand Haven Tribune, Trisha Larsen and her daughter, Georgeanne Larsen, live in western Michigan. They teach kindergarten in towns just across the Grand River from each other. And, since February, their students have struck up a correspondence.

One of the things the students have learned is how they like the same types of things that the kids in the other school like. What a great way to teach the youngsters about the world, even if it isn't that far away!

Read the full story online at the Tribune.

Monday, June 5, 2017

USPS stamp honors philosopher Henry David Thoreau

Last month, the U.S. Postal Service introduced a new stamp celebrating writer, philosopher and naturalist Henry David Thoreau during the bicentennial year of his birth. Thoreau was born July 12, 1817.

He is likely best known for his book "Walden," detailing his experiences of living for two years in a cabin on the shores of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau wrote many more books, essays, poems, articles, etc. And, he also wrote many letters, which have also been collected and published. 

In one letter to his sister, a 20-year-old Thoreau wrote:
 "...letter-writing too often degenerates into a communicating of facts, and not of truths; of other men's deeds and not our thoughts. What are the convulsions of a planet, compared with the emotions of the soul? or the rising of a thousand suns, if that is not enlightened by a ray?"
The USPS stamps are available in blocks of four or 10 and as a sheet of 20. Additionally, you can order a digital color postmark, first-day cover, framed art piece, a ceremony program and more. Visit or your local post office.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Weather gives us something to write about!

This photo of the cholla cactus flowers at our house shows bright skies. Today, it's cloudy with a chance of rain. 

It's not yet summer here in the northern hemisphere -- there's still almost three weeks to go -- but already we've had 100+ temperatures here in this part of Texas. Last week, the thermometer topped the century mark at least two days. Fortunately, this week, we've had more clouds and a little bit of rain, so it's cooled off somewhat, only reaching the upper 80s and lower 90s.

Does the weather affect your letter writing? Do you tend to write more if it's cold and/or rainy and you're stuck inside? Or, do you write more when you can go sit outside on the patio or in the hammock?

At the very least, the weather gives us something to write about. If you're experiencing letter writers' block, try writing a few paragraphs about the weather. Tell your letter's recipient what it's like where you are. How does it make you feel? What's your favorite type of weather?

If you find yourself wondering what to write this weekend, try writing a weather letter. Maybe even delight your penpal with a sketch of your atmosphere!

Happy letter writing!

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