Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hmm, there appears to be a glitch in the mail-trix.

Oh man, I'm geeked out. I'm plain exhausted from the Calgary Expo. There were some highs (meeting Katee Sackhoff and Jasika Nicole) and some lows (the exit was temporarily shut down by the Fire Marshall and I'm ashamed to say that I might have contemplated eating my husband's arm at one point, I was so freaking hungry), but I made it back in close to one piece. I was planning on being practically comatose most of today, but something roused me out of the depths of my stupour and I took to the blog world to make one important announcement:



My past stance on computer-typed letters was "okay, I don't mind recieving the occasional letter of this type." Sometimes life gets busy, and it's fine if someone sneaks in a letter during a slow time at work. But no more.

I recieved a computer-typed letter this week from someone who responded to my penpal ad. My initial feeling was YAY, thanks for adding to my great mail week. However, imagine my surprise when I was visiting the blog of a fellow penpaller, and discovered that hey, she also recieved a letter from this same person. Not just any letter, mind you, THE EXACT SAME LETTER.

When I recieve a letter, I'm grateful for the time and effort that someone put into writing me something. It's a great feeling. Penpalling is not about booting up the computer, printing out a form introduction, slapping a stamp on it and sending it on its way. That takes the fun out of snail mail. I get enough form letters from every corporation and company I've ever provided my address to, I don't need more. If you don't have the time to write a real letter, or don't want to put in the effort, DON'T WRITE. Printing out a letter shouldn't be an option. It's an insult to those of us who spend hours and put a lot of heart into our letters. Sometimes I feel as though my hand will fall off after a really long letter, and it hardly seems fair that someone should be the recipient of that letter when that same person couldn't put in the same bit of effort for me.

I understand that intro letters can be tedious. "Hi, my name is Laura, blah, blah, blah, blah." But I also know that my intro letters are never the same. I always write different letters, because I know that different people will want to read about different things. I don't simply write one letter, and send several people a photocopy of that letter. That is the antithesis of penpalling.

I'm grateful that I've only recieved two computer-written letters during my re-discovery of snail mail. All my other responses have been from penpallers who love stationery and hand-written correspondence as much as I do. To you all, please know that I'm thankful for your mail. I've fallen in love with your stationery and your penmanship (some to the point where I'm contemplating replacing my hand with a robotic one that writes as nice as you do....), and I'm very happy that you like me enough to continue writing.

Now that my tirade is done, I return to my geek-induced coma.....

Friday, April 27, 2012

Put your right foot in..the mailbox? Then shake it all about!!

My goal is to routinely post my outgoing and incoming for the week (AKA my show and mail) on the weekend. Unlike other countries, Canada doesn't deliver mail on Saturdays (who can I talk to to change this? If I form a protest of one in downtown Edmonton, will this make a difference? Anyone want to join me?). My weekend post would then capture all the mail sent and recieved between the Monday-Friday before. However, I'm a little early with my post this week because I'm taking a trip to Calgary tomorrow for the Calgary Expo!

What's the Calgary Expo, you ask? Why, it's only the biggest geek expo this side of Canada! At this, the entire major cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation will be reuniting for the first time in 20 years!! This even includes Sir (you can't forget the Sir) Patrick Stewart!! Now, I'm not actually a Star Trek fan—I've never watched an episode and please don't tell my fellow geeks because I'm afraid they'll kick me out of the geek club—but I'm pretty damn excited nonetheless. There is going to be a Fringe panel (one of my favourite shows on air right now), and Katee Sackhoff from BSG (my favourite show of ALL TIME) is going to be there. So I figure I better get the mail business out of the way before I go catatonic with geekdom...


On a scale of cow to zebra, my incoming mail this week was a gazelle (need a translation? You can get The Dictionary to Laura's Randomness for 5 easy monthly installments of $19.99!! I'll also accept payment in the form of washi tape. Click here to find out how to purchase. We also have someone ready to take your call right now!)!!
More fan-freaking-tastic penpal ad responses. I'm starting to think that there was a huge mistake in my ad, as these wonderful letter writers seem to think I'm far more interesting than I really am. I really should have written: "My name is Laura. I spend all my hours counting the ceiling tiles in my house. After that, I watch paint dry. The most exciting part of my day is where I dress myself. Please write me." I do apologize to everyone for roping you in. But now that I've got you, I'm subjecting you to 12 page letters on a regular basis. Please see your doctor if you'd like to be inoculated against this, but there's no guarantee it'll work. I'm a persistent, hearty bastard.

What's super exciting is that one of the letters (from Sukie in the UK) was sealed with candle wax, which made the period drama lover in me go SQUEE! Also, Sarah in Australia was so clever and included a map with her letter, outlining places and cities of importance to her:

Sarah—is this map to scale? If so, your commute doesn't seem that bad then! *rimshot* [audience groans....]

Check out this great King Lear stamp from Jennifer in the UK:


The below was for a "Weird as Hell" postcard swap, and weird as hell these postcards were! In fact, I was too shy to send one of the postcards naked through the mail [guess which one?] so I got permission from the reciever to send it in an envelope. How silly is that? Do you ever feel shy about some of the images on your postcards?

My outgoing orphaned postcard children. Central Park, don't think that I didn't see you give Edmonton a wedgie that one time..! [that sentence is so bizarre (even for me), but weirdly funny on so many levels] But I forgive you. I'll miss you both.

Now, I'm off! I'm hoping to convince Sir Patrick Stewart to transfer his sir-dom to me so that I can start referring to myself as Lady Laura. Ooooohhh, tell me that doesn't give you chills. No? Well, it makes me pretty darn tooting excited. Thanks to everyone for giving me a gazelle mail week, and I hope you gentle mail folk had the same!

P.S. I realized earlier this week that I don't own a letter opener. First, I don't watch Star Trek, now I don't open a letter opener. Oh man, I'll be kicked out of the only clubs that'll have me. You'd think that I would have come to this realization a long time ago, but nope, apparently I was too busy thinking of a way to fit a square peg into a circular hole—grrrrr, I'll conquer you yet. I'm really disappointed by this (the lack of letter opener, not the square peg into the circular hole thing) as I had the opportunity to get an AWESOME one shaped like a samurai sword (!!!!) during a recent stationery roadtrip. What? Don't look at me that way; it's not at all weird to take 7 hour (roundtrip) day-roadtrips, draggling your poor husband to eight stationery shops, just to buy paper. Perfectly normal.

In the absence of a letter opener, I've just been tearing into envelopes using my sausage fingers, which is the equivalent of using a rocket launcher to tweeze out a hair (OVERKILL). I'm on a mission to find a proper letter opener now and am prepared to plumb the depths of Edmonton shops to find a really unique one. If you don't hear from me for a while, send help... I probably got distracted by something pretty and then got lost somewhere....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Orphaned Postcard Project

You may have realized by now that most of my blog post titles are fairly random and really make little sense. My motto is "keep them guessing!" However, this one is fairly straight-forward as it's about the Orphaned Postcard Project (Did I blindside you with the obvious title? I promise it won't happen again...)

I recently discovered the Orphaned Postcard Project through a bit of happenstance. The Smithsonian Postal Museum launched a great twitter campaign titled #showandmail. Basically, people are asked to post photos of their incoming and outgoing mail and tag it with #showandmail. It's so great to see just how many of us are mail enthusiasts! Viva snail mail indeed. If you're on twitter, I encourage you to spend 5-10 minutes to take a look at the beautiful mail people recieve every day. Who knows, you might discover a future penpal or find a kindred soul to follow on twitter.

The Show and Mail campaign led me to the Orphaned Postcard Project, created by the wonderful PostMuse. Like all innovative projects I discover, my immediate thought was, "DAMN! Why didn't I think of that first?!" It's a simple concept: you "adopt" a postcard, write a memory attached to the location/scene on the postcard, and send it back to PostMuse. Easy peasy! However, most people probably adopt a postcard or two, I adopted *ahem*eight*ahem*. WHA? I like the idea of little postcard children! Did you miss the operative word in the title? ORPHANED. These postcards have no home! NO HOME!! I'm temporarily welcoming these beautiful orphaned postcard children into my home!! As an aside: I often write my blogposts as if they were sentences that I would normally say in real life (hence the blatant abuse of brackets and em dashes, which is my attempt to stem my stream of consciousness into a grammatically-correct structure). So when I use the word "home" in the above few sentences, I'm saying it exactly how Happy Gilmore would say it. Observe:

[now if you go back and re-read those sentences using the Happy Gilmore way of stressing the word "Home," it's like I'm there with you! But in the least creepy way possible. Unless of course you like that sort of thing—in that case, I aim to please!]

Anyway, back to the orphaned postcards: they better stay away from my candy if they know what's good for them, and hopefully they're potty-trained. I don't exactly have time to chase after postcards that keep leaving stamp "surprises" everywhere.... However, I'm sure I adopted well-behaved orphaned cards.

I adopted several postcards showing Alberta locations, as well as one from California and even some from England (the plan is to take them on my trip to England in August. Once I've visited the site on the postcard, I'll write my memory on it and then post it from England!). I recieved the first envelope with the Alberta cards and the lone California one today! Look at how bootiful those envelopes are! You'll see the actual postcards in a future outgoing post.

If you also like the idea of adopting a little orphaned postcard, learn how to participate in the project here, and search the database of available postcards to adopt here! It's a great project and I'm really happy to be involved.

Now I just have to figure out which memories I want to write on my adopted cards. Of course I couldn't be concise if my life depended on it. So trying to write a nice memory (pithy preferably) when it takes me 546849 words just to say, "Hi, how are you," is going to be a problem. I'm considering only writing every 7th word of the entire memory. Something like, "Hi, Edmonton, ate, underwear, clown, Ryan Gosling, hamstring, whipped cream, donkey, hahahaha!" Now, wouldn't you want to know that memory....

Saturday, April 21, 2012

In-N-Out (Burgers?)

I had a great mail week, it was very exciting! Thanks to everyone who sent me something, I'm very appreciative! If my mailbox could talk, I'm sure she'd say something like, "Thanks for the yummy goodies, now how about something with more salt?" I know, it shocks me too(!) but my mailbox is a future sufferer of hypertension.


Below is my first reply from a comment I left on Good Mail Day's 2012 Call for Correspondents! It was very exciting. I have done my fair share of "cold writing" people that I've found through sites like GMD and Send Something, but no one had ever written me first. Thanks Meg!

Awesome postcrossing card

But wait, what's this on the postcard...? The Postcrossing stamp from the Netherlands! I was SO EXCITED to recieve this stamp. It's amazing how the simplest thing can make our day. That's the beauty of snail mail—that the smallest kindness and thoughtfulness can mean so much to someone halfway across the world.

Two great first letters: one was a swap-bot penpal letter swap and the other was my first letter as a result of my Pen Pal of the Week ad! Thanks to Melanie for the letter, and big thanks to Julie for posting my ad. I've already met such great people because of it, and I know I'll meet a bunch more! If you're looking for penpals or want more penpals, send Julie a pen pal ad! You could not meet a nicer community of letter writers.



That's it from me as I'm headed to my nephew's birthday party this afternoon. YAY PARTY!
I unintentionally tied the twine (which naturally is airmail-coloured) way too tight for a 7 year old to open. Ooopps... He won't be able to open his present, but at least it's pretty! I'll try not to be evil and giggle as my family members run about trying to find scissors.

Sorry to the people who came to my blog thinking this was going to be a post about fast food, and to everyone else, I hope you also had great mail days this week.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mugs, mugs, mugs--which are good, which are bad?

I always suffer from stationery envy when people post such great photos of their incoming and outgoing mail. But sometimes we forget—at least I do—that letter writing is more than simply stationery, envelopes, paper, stamps, and pens. For example, I very rarely write a letter without a cuppa beside me; it helps set the mood. I'm sure lots of letter writers out there feel and do the same. So I thought I should write a blog post celebrating the unsung heroes of letter writing: tea and the mugs that hold lovely tea goodness.  

It would be incorrect to say that I'm a collector of mugs; rather, I'm an acquirer of mugs. I have a rather large number of mugs, and I use certain groups of mugs for different purposes. For example, I have 4-5 mugs I use just for cuppas with my husband; mugs for my morning coffee/tea; mugs for water; and even a mug for when I have tea by myself. And I never mix the mugs up for different purposes. For instance, I would never use a morning coffee mug for water—what am I, a heathen?!! When I buy a new one, I replace an older mug and take it out of purpose "rotation." I know, I even frighten myself with this anal weirdness...

There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea.
 -Bernard-Paul Heroux

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
- C. S. Lewis

Anyway, here are some of my favourite mugs, the ones that provide comfort and help set the mood for when I write my letters:

DISCLAIMER: Please click away right now if seeing great mugs or tea tins makes you go insane, to the point where you consider selling your kidney for more mugs and tea. Just me? Oh... awkward.....

Here are some of my favourite cuppa mugs:

Here are my favourite mugs for water:


I LOVE Tintin.

Oh wait.... what's this in my green mug...?

Here are my favourite morning coffee/tea mugs:

 And my latest acquisition: His and Hers mugs!

They have words on the other side that only become a sentence when you put the two mugs together:

My husband keeps giving me the HIS mug. I'm not sure if that's just an accident or he's trying to tell me something. I mean, I might have a tiny bit of hair on my upper lip, but that does not make me a man! It's just... mannish. There's a vast difference.

And last but not least, here are a few photos of my tea collection:

Being attacked by tea tins every time you open the cupboard is a real danger in my house.

What about you, lovely letter writers? Do you like to acquire mugs? What is your favourite mug to use or your favourite tea to drink while writing your letters?