Friday, January 31, 2014

January Mailings


How are you today? It's the end of the month, so that means it's time to recap January's mailings. I know, you're riveted. Even so, I won't mind if you excuse yourself to do something even more exciting like cut your cuticles or watch paint dry. (will you bring me with you?!)

BUT! First things first: it's come to my attention that some of my mail seems to have gone missing as of late. So, if we're penpals or mail tag partners or some equivalent along those lines, and you haven't heard from me in a long time and expected to hear from me by now (or, sent me something and haven't heard from me in a long time), please email me and let me know. I've missed you, buuuddddy!

To date, I only received 9 of my 12 Days of Holiday Bullshit envelopes. Statistically speaking, that means 25% of my incoming mail has gone missing between December to mid-January. UM, Canada Post? THOSE NUMBERS SUCK. Yes, I realize that if this were school, 75% success still means that you passed; however, if this were say.... bomb-defusing and fumigation, that 25% failure rate counts for a lot. "But lady! I killed 75% of them bugs! Doesn't that count for anything?" "That bomb only 25% went off! That ain't bad!" NO and NO. And yes, I realize that these analogies don't really make sense in the context of things, but just pretend that they do because I'm trying to make a point, which is that Canada Post sucks.

So it stands to reason that 25% of my other mail went missing too, hence the point of two paragraphs above.

(this is also why I really want to start training squirrels to deliver my mail. Except I won't because that seems like something a crazy person would do. I'll just stick with my aluminum foil hat for now, I guess....)


Man, I hope the Sheriff's Secret Police don't come after me for this letter to Rhiannon

A little Doctor's companion for Sarah

Mail for Miki!

Mail for @jellysock

Colours for Marissa

A little bit of Regency-era elegance for Vanessa

Mail Tag Round 1 for Tash!


L to R, Top to Bottom: Mail from Vanessa in the UK; a lovely Christmas card from Holly, who is moving to NYC!; and the last of the Holiday Bullshit envelopes that would arrive

L to R, Top to Bottom: Christmas card from Christina in Norway; lovely postcard from Michael from LEP; a card from the newly-married Nicole from LEP; and a letter from Caroline from LEP

L to R, Top to Bottom: Pure Madness from Rhiannon; a postcard depicting the Bennett sisters kicking undead ass from Julie on Send Something; Harry Potter stamp grandness from rachel; and insanity in letter form from Ginger

L to R, Top to Bottom: More paper insanity from Ginger; an envelope under construction from Natasha; mail from my IGGPPC pal, Sarah; and loveliness from Rin

L to R, Top to Bottom: Notes all the way from Greece from Athanasia; MY VERY FIRST MAIL FROM SOUTH AFRICA from Alison; and coloured Droids and Stormtroopers from Cheryl

Check out the custom stamp from Mary!

And you? What awesome things were in your mailbox this month?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Penpal Etiquette

YIKES. It's a good thing that blogging regularly wasn't on my list of New Year's goals because then I'd be on FIRE...with, you know, failed aspirations and hopes. YAY!

I apologize for the radio silence over the last few weeks. Truth be told, I'm still trying to get used to blogging regularly and I won't lie, it seemed more imperative to re-watch episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer than it was to blog. (I also ate some bacon.) Don't hold it against me. Especially since it will happen again. (I hate to lie to old friends so I hope that you'll appreciate my brutal honesty. Just call me Luna Lovegood! LOONY.)

Since it's a brand new year, I thought it might be helpful to review some penpal etiquette tips! Because you want to start your letter writing year off with a bang, right? Especially since it's almost Lettermo time! And I know that I could use a review of penpal etiquette tips—lately I've been pairing green pens with blue ones, requesting flamethrowers in letters, and putting my stamps on at 30 degree angles, which everyone knows is SO 2011!! Such impropriety! I'm ashamed to even admit it.

Penpal Etiquette*

*I wrote this article for the February 2013 issue of the League of Extraordinary Penpals monthly newsletter. But I think the tips are still relevant, given that we haven't learned how to read minds quite yet so I hope you bear with! 

Emily Post is a name that is synonymous with etiquette. In her 1922 book, Post has an entire chapter dedicated to correspondence. Some of her etiquette gems for letters include:

  •  "Paper should never be ruled, or highly scented, or odd in shape, or have elaborate or striking ornamentation"
  •  "The flap of the envelope should be plain and the point not unduly long"
  •  "No lady should ever sign a letter 'respectfully,' not even were she writing to a queen. If an American lady should have occasion to write to a queen, she should conclude her letter 'I have the honor to remain, Madam, your most obedient.'"
  • "It is true that if a young man wishes to choose a wife in whose daily life he is sure always to find the unfinished task, the untidy mind and the syncopated housekeeping, he may do it quite simply by selecting her from her letters."

Huh. Even if you understood what Emily Post was saying, it appears that her tips for correspondence etiquette are a bit outdated. For example, plain envelopes and paper that have no decorations? No way! We love our mail art! So what is penpal etiquette in 2013 (*cough*2014*cough*)? Although everyone has their own opinion about the topic, here are our tips and suggestions:

1) It's good to be on the same page with your penpal when it comes to expectations so have an open discussion about what you're hoping to get out of the relationship. For example, you may want to discuss things like frequency and letter length right at the beginning of a penpal friendship just to see if you're on the same page. If you like to write a bi-monthly 2 page letter while your penpal prefers writing 30 page letters twice a year, you might not be a good match. Or you might need to re-adjust your expectations so that you're not disappointed. Obviously, it's not a contract that is written in stone, but it helps to know if you have the same approach and mind-set to penpalling.

It helps to be on the same page! Because you don't want to be buried under paper like this poor sap! What a dink. 

This also applies to discussing your preference for typed vs handwritten letters, as well as any topics that you may not be comfortable talking about (ie: politics, religion, or sex). We're not suggesting that you provide people with a list of things they can and can't talk about in a letter, but a simple "I'd prefer not to talk about ladies with moustaches" can save both of you some awkwardness down the line.

It's important to note that having an open discussion about expectations does not mean that you should provide a grocery list of demands. For example, stipulating that your penpals have to write you a certain amount of pages, reply within a certain time frame, only write on paper that has ballet-dancing hippos, alternate pen colours so that every 6th line is the perfect shade of blue, only use a fountain pen that has been blessed by a unicorn (aw shucks, my unicorn connections are on vacation! What are the chances?!)... demands such as these kill the fun. Penpalling should not be a chore or feel like work, and you wouldn't want to complete a checklist of demands when writing a letter so don't ask that your penpals do the same.

2) Write interesting letters that encourage conversation and that you would be excited to read if you were on the receiving end. We've found that it helps if you imagine the person being right next to you when you write your letter. Pretend you're having coffee with an old friend! Don't dominate the conversation by only talking about yourself (this includes making your letter simply a list of items, such as your hobbies or a list of things that you've done since you last talked. Open up and provide details!) and don't simply ask questions either. Your penpal wants to hear about you too!

It can be very difficult to find that balance between opening up about yourself but not making the letter all about you. When in doubt, read your letter. Does it sound like your letter is a long diary entry that could have been written to anyone? Or is it full of personal references and inside jokes that are specific to the person you're writing to? If your letter reads like a long diary entry, you may want to rethink how you've written it. (Helpful note: if what you're reading starts with "Dear Diary," you may actually just be reading your diary. You're welcome!) Penpalling is about connecting and the recipient wants to feel as if he/she is part of the conversation too. Who wants to spend time with someone who only talks about themselves?

Source: Simon and Finn

3) Life is busy, so be understanding. If you don't hear from a penpal for a long time, don't get frustrated. Be patient and respect that penpalling can't always be someone's number one priority. Life gets busy and your penpal will write when he/she can. Perhaps your penpal is busy saving the world; as you already know, it's difficult to pen a letter in the middle of chasing a supervillain. Also, penpalling is a two-way street: if you haven't heard from your penpal in a long time, why don't you send a postcard just to see how they're doing? It's possible that your letter simply got lost and they're waiting to hear from you.

The flip side is this: if you're going to be late with your reply, try to keep your penpal informed. Send an email or a quick postcard (ie: Dear Penpal, I'm currently busy saving the world. Please record Downton Abbey for me). I'm sure your penpal would appreciate knowing that the delay in your response is simply because you're busy and not because you've decided to stop writing. Also, when it does come time to reply to your penpal, refer to etiquette suggestion #2. Don't just write a quick and hasty response simply for the sake of "getting it done." If your penpal took care and time to write you a great letter, return the favour (especially if your penpal has been patient). If you don't have the time to write a properly thoughtful letter, then wait until you do. Your penpal would probably rather wait for a great letter, than read a hurried and very short response.

4) If you decide to end a penpal relationship, let your partner know. This is a tricky one, because rejection is never fun. But it's better to be honest and tell the other person if you decide to end the friendship. Sometimes you don't click with a person or the letters start feeling like a chore, it's okay to want to stop writing. While you can simply avoid or ignore the other person, it's not very polite. And since we're are Canadian, we're big fans of being unfailingly polite, eh? (We also live in igloos, play hockey, and keep beavers as pets.) So we encourage you to be honest and let them know that you've decided not to continue the relationship. Your penpal will appreciate your honesty.

Penpal etiquette is a fluid topic and none of these tips are hard and fast rules. They are derived from our own experiences, and you may have some others that you'd like to add based on your own experiences. If so, email us and let us know!

Although most of Emily Post's tips are dated, there is one that is still very relevant for 2013 (*cough*2014*cough*): "The letter you write, whether you realize it or not, is always a mirror which reflects your appearance, taste and character." In other words, present yourself in the best light with each letter; if you want to be an extraordinary penpal, always write extraordinary letters.

YES. Even David Mitchell agrees. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

She shoots, she scores some new year goals!

Hello, everyone! Welcome to 2014! Otherwise known as the time of goals and resolutions!

I made some poor decisions in 2013 that I quickly learned to regret, and I'm super excited that three days into the new year and I'm (so far) regret-free! Well, 99.999999987% regret free. I probably shouldn't have eaten that entire tub of cola bottles in one day. HOWEVER, on the bright side: I'm three days into 2014 and I already learned a valuable lesson! Don't eat a tub of cola bottles in one sitting. That only took me 30 years to learn. Hey, I'm a slow learner; don't judge me.

But the point is, I already know that this year is going to be infinitely better than 2013. I can smell it, like a sixth sense. And more importantly, I'm determined that this year is going to stay on track because I'm going to stick to my New Year's Goals. (I, personally, prefer the term "goals" as it seems to imply something that I'm trying to achieve, as opposed to "resolutions," which suggests something that I'm determined to change)

Six ways to a better Laura

So, what are my goals for this year? Here they are (there aren't six, despite what the subtitle suggests. I just never learned to count; see above re: being a slow learner):

1) Stop hoarding
- this means that I'm actually going to start using my stationery and other related-paper items, rather than continuing to store them in boxes. Stationery is no good when it just sits and collects dust in a box somewhere. So I want to spread the paper love to the people that I care about: my penpal peeps!

2) Keep coming up with designs for Please Deliver To
- Me and Jinnee (AKA my awesome partner and best friend) are still hard at work coming up with new designs for our geek stationery store and our goal is to keep coming out with the awesome throughout 2014. We already have Jane Austen, Community, Harry Potter, Pushing Daisies, and Pac-Man designs just waiting for print, and tons of other ideas lined up. It'll be raining geekery this year and you're going to need a heavy-duty umbrella if you don't want to get splattered!

3) Actually use up stationery packs (which is related to goal 1, really)
- I don't know about you, but half the battle of writing an actual letter seems to be the simple act of choosing a stationery set. It takes forever. People affected by the Hundred Years' War would probably look at me and be like, "Hey Lady, just make a choice already. The war was waged and won before you even finished looking at your paper." Then they'd cut me some side eye at the ridiculousness of it all. So my goal is to just work with a select few packs, use them until there are no more sheets left, and then move on to the next pack. No more using a few sheets here and a few sheets there. Stationery, watch out because there will be no more cuddling happening at Casa Please Deliver To; I'm now officially a "use them and move on" person.

And those are my goals! What about you, readers? What are your goals for 2014? I'd love to hear them. Perhaps we can keep each other motivated and on track!

Friday, December 27, 2013

December Mailings

Hello, blogworld!

MERRY POST-CHRISTMAS! I hope you had a super Christmas and that Santa was great to you. I've been asking Santa to bring me a spaceship for years now, and every year, he brings me some candy in my stocking. I hate to speak ill of jolly fat men, but me thinks Santa is losing his touch... I mean, I can swallow a lot of ridiculousness, but even I won't be fooled into thinking that gumballs are a spaceship. Really, Santa. REALLY.

I mentioned weeks ago that I'm not sending or recieving as much mail as I once did. As a result, I'm aiming to do a mail recap only once a month, at the end of the month. So! If you asked Santa for some mail art eye-candy for Christmas and he didn't deliver (let me guess: he gave you socks? Antiperspirant? OR WORSE: USED antiperspirant?!!), today is your lucky day!


A wee bit of surprise mail for Rachel

Appropriately labeled mail for the Amazing Mary

HULK SMASH for Natasha

Frida Kahlo mosaic for Kimmie

Captain "I Need a Lozenge" (AKA Batman) for Tamara, a new IGGPPC pal

Xmas tags for Laurel

Round 1 of Mail Tag for Wendy!

A bit of a Christmas mail art experiment for Ginger


(from top left: mail from Laurel, POW from Natasha, and stamp goodness from Nadine)

(from top left: mail from Mary, my husband, and Talli)

Ginger asked for my advice in a Case Mystery, and she so very helpfully provided all the necessary pieces for me to crack the case

(from top left: Christmas card from Kimmie, mail art from a friend I made on twitter, and Miki)

I signed up for Cards Against Humanity's (CAH) 12 Days of Holiday Bullshit, and this is what I've recieved so far. Judging from the website, I seem to be missing Day 1 and Day 2 already. How bad could I have been this year that I don't even get coal?!!

A close-up of one of the CAH envelopes, because they're really quite fun

(from top left: Christmas cards from Em, Natasha, and lovely Lisa)

(from top left: mail from LEP friends Millie, Marissa, and Jennifer)

And that's what I got in the mail this month! What about you? What did you get in the mail recently?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Badly done, Canada Post. Badly done.

Unless you've been living in a cave the last week or so, you probably know that Canada Post unveiled its new five-point plan recently, which includes:

- community mailboxes as CP phases out home delivery;
- addressing the cost of labour (which is fancy business speak for laying off 8,000+ Canada Post employees. Well, supposedly the 8,000 number will be achieved through attrition, but I'm quite the skeptic when it comes to corporations making that claim)
- increasing the price of lettermail stamps from $0.63 to $1 ($0.85 per stamp if you buy booklets or coils, which CP declares is a "discount for customers that use the mail the most." In the words of Inigo Montoya, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Where I come from, a 35% increase in price should never be referred to as a "discount.")

I'm not thrilled about community mailboxes, especially given the alarming number of documented break-ins of said mailboxes over the last five years (a one-stop shop for parcels, credit card offers, and checks—how can a thief resist that kind of sweetness just sitting right there?). And I'm a relatively mobile person (I say relatively because I'm just simply lazy, and therefore don't move much, by choice), how are people who have mobility issues expected to get their mail? We know how exciting it is to get our mail every day, why is Canada Post depriving people of that pleasure?!! (However, to be fair, I do see the logic in it, even if I don't necessarily agree.)

But what I'm particularly incensed about is the massive increase in postage. Particularly because I went to the store earlier this week to stock up on permanent stamps in anticipation, and was told that Canada Post immediately ceased selling all their permanent stamps.

So, let me get this straight: the five-point plan is intended to help Canada Post become financially sustainable. In other words, to cut costs and make money. I'm no genius, but it strikes me that implementing a country-wide plan to recall permanent stamps that are already in stores, quickly print new Canadian domestic stamps with the $0.63 denomination on them, and then express ship them to back to stores for sale DOES. NOT. SAVE. MONEY. Perhaps I'm misreading the situation, but it seems like a gross, unnecessary expenditure versus selling the stamps they already have printed and in stores.

It's not as if they are going to bring out the 2013 permanent stamps and try to sell them in 2014. It's more likely that the 2013 permanent stamps that Canada Post refused to sell to customers will just be trashed because they'll have new 2014 permanent stamps in March that they'll sell for the $0.85 a pop. I feel as though Canada Post has become that annoying family member who complains about being broke, but only after they've bought a diamond spatula, a silver Mercedes, and gold caps for their teeth. Gee thanks, Uncle Bill, you're SWELL.

And that's not even taking into account the ridiculous effect the changes will have on snail mail.

This is where I use a total legit analogy

Take the bus service for example: my city's bus service is crap. It's utter crap. The bus drivers are rude, they never run on time, and sometimes the bus doesn't even come at all. So, naturally, people stop taking the bus if they can because it's a crap system. The transit system realizes that less people are taking the bus, so they increase the price of bus passes and reduce bus service. Because in a nonsensical world, that should encourage people to take the bus again. Rinse and repeat as less and less people take the bus. Increasing prices and reducing services DOES NOT ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO USE YOUR SERVICES. It's not rocket science, people.

I know that for non-snail mailers, Canada Post eliminating home delivery and raising stamp prices seemingly doesn't impact them. I've heard many people say that they "don't remember the last time they bought a stamp" or "they don't even know how much stamps cost now." In response, I say this: they may not know how much an individual stamp costs because they haven't sent lettermail in a while, but when's the last time they sent a package? Bought something off the internet? It's all part and parcel (pun semi-intended). If Canada Post decides to raise the price of lettermail stamps, how long until they proportionally raise the price of sending parcels? And you think the price of shipping on internet shopping is outrageous now? Oh, just you wait.

Everyone talks about how snail mail is dead. If they do a quick search online, they'll quickly realize that it's not. We snail mailers are vocal advocates for letters and postcards, and we will continue to write letters, regardless of what happens. But it's folly for non-letter writers to think that the changes to Canada Post won't affect them. Everyone gets mail—whether it's bills or packages or magazines—and the changes to Canada Post and its services will affect us all (well, Canadians, that is. I doubt people in New Zealand care too much). Plus, the 8,000 people who could be laid off? Yeah, I'm sure they would be thrilled by the continued employment.


I've stockpiled as many permanent stamps as possible, but if Canada Post raises the price of US and international stamps to the same degree that they increased domestic prices, I'll have no choice but to stop writing as many people around the world. I love my penpals, and this would make me very sad. Please don't make me emo, Canada Post! I've always known that snail mailing isn't a cheap passion, but having more than X number of penpals is starting to get a bit too rich for my blood.

So, what can we do?

There are a number of petitions out there. Search google and sign one of them. Sign all of them! Make up names and sign them a hundred times (just kidding. Don't do this. I doubt the government is going to buy that "Mitty Mitterson the Third" or "Luke Skywalker Texas Ranger" are real people). Write letters to your government officials. It may not make a difference, but at least we can try.

But most importantly: KEEP SENDING SNAIL MAIL! To everyone! To anyone! Remind them that they need to write a letter to get a letter! Because each piece of mail we send does matter, and we've got to keep up the good fight.