Eclipse!

The Great American Eclipse is today!

The USPS issued a commemorative stamp (in June, on the summer solstice) to celebrate this rare event.

These stamps use a special ink that is black when cool, showing a total solar eclipse. The ink fades when heated by your breath or finger to reveal the moon!

You can buy them here. The back of the stamp sheet provides a map of the path of totality:

You can learn more about the stamps and their special ink here.

Post offices in the path of the eclipse are offering special pictorial cancellations until September.  You can find a post office and request these special cancellations here.

If you have never requested special postmarks, here are some great instructions to get a pristine example back!

Here are a couple of examples of pictorial cancellations:

Most of the U.S. will see at least a partial eclipse today, so be safe in your viewing. If you would rather just watch the total eclipse online, you can find some options here.

And I recommend you check out this TED video. It’s incredible!!

 

 

Connection Builds Trust; Trust Leads to Love; Love Conquers Hate

I have been thinking a lot about the state of the world these days.  And I’ve been feeling a need to write.  And I wondered if any of this had anything to do with snail mail and whether it would “fit” here on this blog that I’ve not come back to for so long.

And then I realized that it all fits, because writing letters and sending them across the land to another builds connections between two beings.  And connection is exactly what we need right now.

So much about our culture is designed to push us apart, put us in separate boxes, highlight differences and make the unfamiliar or strange or different into an enemy to be destroyed.

So today I wanted to stand up for connection and share loudly and clearly that I reject white supremacy, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia, xenophobia, and any other fear-based mindset that serves only to drive us apart, justify oppression and perpetuate rampant exploitation  of our earth’s natural resources.

So much of our society currently follows a way that is far from our roots.  All of our peoples, irrespective of origin, once lived fully connected to the earth, her cycles and rhythms.  And the further we part from that, the more we forget who we are and what we are meant to do.

We are meant to connect, to build deep trust and reliance on our communities. And we are meant to contribute our love, our energy, and our gifts in ways that better the world.

In honor of my realization that this blog, and my thoughts, are about more than snail mail, but are still very much about the values related to my love for sending letters, I’ve changed the tag line of this blog from:

Save Snail Mail: Preserving Handwritten Traditions in a Modern World

to:

Save Snail Mail and Other Things That Make Life Worth Living

We need to save it all–all that keeps us human and whole and connected and loving one another.  I’m going to go write some letters as part of that.  I hope you do, too.

With love,

Dana

 

P.S.

I felt called to write this today after reading Layla Saad’s thoughtful, respectful, vulnerable and strength-filled letter.  I encourage everyone to read it and then take action in ways that contribute to dismantling racism and white supremacy. And write your own letters to the world, too.

P.P.S  This image gives me hope.  It is my wish that each one there and all of us who see this photo take action tomorrow and the next day, have the difficult conversations, face our own parts in this unjust system, and keep working at it until we truly can call ourselves the land of the free.

Image from NPR article “Torches Replaced by Candlelight as Thousands Gather for Charlottesville Vigil”

The New Year

It has been a dark year, personally for certain, but also culturally, politically, and environmentally. I lost my father unexpectedly. People have been put in charge who care only about their power as they exploit the earth and the diverse people who inhabit it. We lost so many visionaries: storytellers who saw magic in the world, sexy gender-boundary expanders, frank discussants of personal experiences with mental illness, composers of heart-expanding music. We lost black lives that mattered, queer lives that mattered, and poor lives that mattered because there are many in power who do not yet see the beauty and value in each of us.

Most of us are afraid of the dark. But the dark–of the night, of the future–though filled with dangers real and imagined, is also the darkness of possibility. The darkness of soil or womb in which a seed planted, grows, moving towards the light. A seed sprouting first, always, in the dark, the light being an inhospitable place for potential to begin the transformation into actual.

So as I sit in the dark tomorrow, saying goodbye to a year that was and hello to what will be, I will be that seed of possibility: bursting forth into the new year, reaching for the light.

Join me?

My biggest fan…

My dad passed away quite suddenly in February and I miss him dearly.  I wanted to recognize his passing here at Save Snail Mail because he was this blog’s biggest fan.  He checked it regularly, was one of my first commenters, and encouraged me to write more (nay, nagged me!) when it had been a while since I’d posted. Here is one of his blog comments from last October:

I know you have moved in to a new house and traveled everywhere for pleasure and business but it has been six months and snail mail has been getting slower and slower and may disappear completely without your dynamic presence. See ya….

My dad was instrumental in engendering in me an early love for office and stationery supplies.  Our back-to-school shopping sprees were  EPIC!  We bonded over pens and pencils and protractors and paper.

He always chose and sent the best birthday cards, Valentine cards, and Christmas cards.  He even remembered special events like our wedding anniversary.  He sent me a postcard when I was a baby before I could read.  I turned it into a fathers day card for him over 30 years later.  He was so diligent about getting cards to us on time that a couple days before he passed, while in a hospital bed, he apologized because he hadn’t gotten to the post office to get Kris’ birthday card and present in the mail!

He was a sweet, loving, generous man and he will be dearly missed.  Having cards and letters from him, in his handwriting, help me enjoy the memories a bit more clearly and for that, I am very thankful.

 

Dad nose

Life Goes On

Wow.  Time flies, doesn’t it?  It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I still think a lot about “snail mail” and how to save it.

I moved in May to a new home, and that came with lots of unpacking and home projects and new visitors (because we now have a guest bedroom!) and these things filled the space I may have previously filled with letter writing and mail art.

But my creative space (a reclaimed formerly windowless basement room) is nearly remodeled and soon I’ll have a dedicated space to return to the handwritten pleasures of life.  I’m hoping that means more fodder for this blog, too!

I’m writing now, because I read today this piece from Brain Pickings about Rebecca Solnit’s new book The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness in which she talks about how modern of tweets and texts are affecting our communication and also our expression of ourselves.

Here is a quote BrainPickings shared from her book.

As I ran my fingers over the lined paper, words subtly debossed by the pressure of my grandmother’s ballpoint pen, I wondered about the continuity of personal identity across this shift — my letter-writing self seemed to have entirely different things to say, and to say them entirely differently, than my email-writing self, and yet the two selves belong to the same person. Each appears to be a dormant potentiality, beckoned forth by the respective medium of expression — something that makes it hard not to notice, and hard not to worry about, how such shifts in medium might shape what parts of ourselves we manifest, which in turn add up to the sum total of our personal identity.

I’m going to go buy it now so I can read more!

Pony Express Google Doodle

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 155th anniversary of the Pony Express.  It features a game that lets you be a Pony Express rider, picking up letters, switching horses, and avoiding the treacherous obstacles that faced these riders as they traveled across the U.S. in the 19th century.  It is a lot of fun, especially when you fall off!

 

Pony Express DoodleYou can find the Pony Express Google Doodle archived here after April 14th.

And here is a great video on the making of the Doodle, with a little Pony Express history.

Hooray for mail-themed games!

 

International Day of Happiness

Happy International Day of Happiness!!

Today, March 20th, people all over the globe are trying to increase happiness in the one way that works best, connecting with others.

Organizers of the event are encouraging us to connect with people by saying   Say “Hi” to strangers, call an old friend, share with others something that makes you smile, go outside and talk to a neighbor, volunteer in your community.  And then let this good feeling flow through you–brought on by connection!

So, today, follow E.M. Forster’s advice and “Only connect…”  and if that connection is via snail mail, then all the better!

 

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Dr. Seuss would have been 111 yesterday.  By total coincidence, my creative wife sculpted a Cat in the Hat around our mailbox after our recent big snow. My mailbox usually makes me happy, but it was almost magical for a few days!

 

tmp_7594-20150226_1532021076226822

 

 

Snail Mail…It Matters!

One of the joys of this blog is that occasionally people find it and send me letters saying they enjoy reading SSM and share a love of all things snail mail.

I love this. But the message is especially sweet when it comes with handmade snail mail cards!!!

image

Addie from Colorado sent these to me.  I love her adorable, letter-focused snails.

Thanks, Addie! A real reply is headed your way via the USPS.