Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It's the time of year for writing thank you notes

Available at USPS.com
Last week, I attended the end-of-year awards ceremony at the local high school. The program honored students who had attended state competitions – academic and athletic – as well as those earning a special honors award. Additionally, all of the local scholarships for the graduating class were handed out.

Following the ceremony, the principal announced a reception for the scholarship recipients. And, then he mentioned that the seniors were to stay in the library after the reception for a thank you letter writing event so that they could properly acknowledge their scholarships. That was great to hear! Hopefully, any of the students who didn’t already know how to write a proper thank you letter learned how that day. It really is an important skill to have in life!

Here are a few tips for writing thank you letters:
  • Specifically mention the gift, scholarship, job interview, whatever it is for which you are thankful. You don’t have to be awkwardly detailed, but you do need to acknowledge that you know what the gift was. For example, you can say, “Thank you for the shirt you sent for my birthday.” Or, “I want to let you know how much I appreciate receiving the Smith Family Scholarship this year.”
  • Express appreciation for the gift, even if you didn’t really like it. You don’t have to lie about it, but you can still thank the person for, basically, making the effort. “Thank you for the bow tie. I’ve never had one before. It certainly makes a bold statement.”
  • If you think it’s necessary, remind your letter’s recipient who you are. This might be necessary in the case of a foundation that gives out several scholarships to students at different schools. For example, you could say, “After I graduate from Midtown High School, I will be attending State University, and this scholarship will certainly come in handy!”
  • If you really did like the gift, be sure to explain why. “The bread machine was our favorite wedding gift. We love homemade bread, but with our schedules, we just don’t have the time to make bread very often. The machine lets us wake up to freshly baked bread any day!”
  • If at all possible, hand-write the letter. It adds that personal touch everyone appreciates.
Here is an example of a complete thank you letter:
    Dear Aunt Sue,

    Thank you for the book you sent me for graduation. I’ve just started reading it, but the advice in it has been valuable already! I appreciate your thoughtfulness in choosing such a relevant book for me. I will be certain to add it to my permanent library.

    Again, thank you!

    Love,

    Emma
Happy letter writing!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

More cool stamps from the USPS

The U.S. Postal Service is just going all out this year with new stamp designs! Late last month we heard about the upcoming Total Eclipse stamps featuring an image of the eclipsed sun that turns into an image of the moon with the touch of your finger. Now, we can pre-order the new "Have a Ball!" stamps that will have the look -- and feel -- of eight different sports balls.

According to the USPS website, the stamps will be available nationwide June 14 but can be pre-ordered online now. The First Class Forever stamps depict balls used in baseball, basketball, football, golf, kickball, soccer, tennis and volleyball.

A special coating applied to selected areas of the stamps during the printing process gives them a texture that mimics the feel of a:
  • baseball’s stitching;
  • golf ball’s dimples;
  • tennis ball’s seams;
  • soccer ball or volleyball’s textured panels; and,
  • the different raised patterns of a football, basketball and kickball.
What a fun time it is to be buying stamps!

Monday, May 15, 2017

National Stationery Show starts Sunday

Next Sunday, May 21, is the start of this year's National Stationery Show in New York City. The show is expected to bring more than 750 exhibitors and more than 10,000 industry professionals. The NSS caters to buyers and sellers of specialty paper products – from greeting cards, custom invitations, announcements, gift wrap, calendars, and journals, to lifestyle gifts, such as candles, toys, personal care, travel gadgets and more.

To some, "stationery" means only "writing paper," but the definition really covers so much more. According to a number of online dictionaries and other sources, the word comes from the use of the word "stationer" in the Middle Ages to describe a bookdealer who sold books and papers. "Stationer" was used because such shops were in a fixed -- stationary -- location, as opposed to the traveling peddlers that were more common at the time. As most of the stationary shops were located near universities, the term "stationer" came to refer to the specific type of shop that sold books and other paper products.

So, at one time, the words "stationary" and "stationery" were directly related. Nowadays, we use "stationary" to refer to something that is not moving and "stationery" for papers, pens and other writing products.

If you have the privilege of visiting the National Stationery Show this year, you'll have a chance to visit some of the booths of the shop owners featured in the NSS "Stationery Stories" section of the website. You can click over there now and read about how Mary Billings, owner of Love of Character, Wichita, Kansas, turned her dreams into reality or how Jocelyn Kirouac, co-owner of Ümlaut Brooklyn, remarried her first husband, Roland Kirouac, two decades after their divorce and started a greeting card company. There are more stories at the NSS site!


Monday, May 8, 2017

Stamping Out Hunger

This coming Saturday, May 13, is the United States' Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. Letter carriers in more than 10,000 cities and towns across America will collect food donations that their postal customers leave by mailboxes and in post offices and deliver them to local community food banks, pantries and shelters. According information from the National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO), letter carriers, including rural letter carriers, as well as other postal employees and other volunteers, have collected more than 1.5 billion pounds of food the past 24 years.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the food drive. To read about the history of the project, visit the official Stamp Out Hunger website.

To donate, just place a box or can of non-perishable food next to your mailbox before your letter carrier delivers mail on the second Saturday in May. The carrier will do the rest. The food is sorted, and delivered to an area food bank or pantry, where it is available for needy families.

Please note that this is a voluntary project on the letter carriers' part. If you do not receive any kind of information from your letter carrier or see an article in your local newspaper, call your post office on or before Friday to see if they are participating.


Friday, May 5, 2017

Planning Ahead for Mother's Day

Sunday, May 14, will be Mother's Day in the United States and quite a few other countries. That's a little more than a week away, so there's plenty of time to write letters to our moms.

Oh, sure, she'll appreciate some chocolate and a bouquet of flowers and even a pretty greeting card. But, one thing just about any mom in the world will truly cherish is a handwritten, heartfelt letter from her child.

What should you write in a letter to your mom? Here are a few tips:

* Tell her how much you love her and how you appreciate the things she does for you or has done in the past. Get specific, name a few things that she does or did. Like what? Pack your lunch, wash your clothes, check to make sure you're OK, babysit your kids, remind you of your siblings' birthdays...

* Recall a special memory of the two of you, maybe baking cookies together, taking a walk in the park, watching a late-night movie.

* Let your mom know how she's influenced your life. What did she do to set a good example for you? What about her do you try to emulate? How has her presence in your life led you to do good things?

* Make plans to go somewhere or do something with your mom -- soon. Be specific in the letter. Tell her you're going to take her to dinner next Sunday or that you've scheduled a spa day for the two of you to enjoy together. It doesn't have to be expensive, though. You can let her know you've cleared your schedule for an entire day to spend with her, just the two of you, talking, reminiscing, enjoying each other's company.

Don't put it off! Write the letter this weekend so that you can get it in the mail in time for Mother's Day. Even if you're hand-delivering the letter, go ahead and write it now so you're not rushed.

If you can't write a letter to your mom, write a letter to any mom that you admire. She will appreciate it!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Force is Stong in This Marriage

When we decided to get married on May 4, my husband and I had no idea that date would become known as "Star Wars Day." In fact, it may have already been called that in some circles back then, but we hadn't heard of it. Now, "May the Fourth Be With You" is a meme plastered all over the internet today. And, to make it a two-day celebration, tomorrow, May 5, is known as "Revenge of the Fifth," a take off on the movie "Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith," infringing a bit on the Cinco de Mayo celebrations that are reportedly more popular in the United States than they are in Mexico.

We really didn't realize, at first anyway, that it was also the birthdate of my great-grandmother. All we were thinking about was that it was NOT the same day as the Texas Tech University graduation, the date that had been our first choice. Since all of our family lived out of town, they needed hotel rooms that were not available on the graduation day. So, we changed our wedding date, and everything turned out great.

Usually, we don't make a big fuss over our anniversary. This year, he gave me roses, and we both got each other cards, cards so similar that our daughter asked, "Did you get each other the same card???" Not quite, but they are close enough as to illustrate our strong connection. We think alike. Always have, probably always will.

Today, write a letter to someone you love...or your favorite Star Wars fan! Enjoy the day!



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

National Teacher Day is NEXT week!

Since we often write letters and/or send cards for holidays and other specially observed events, those calendar dates are often discussed on this blog. So it seems appropriate to bring up the confusion surrounding this year's Teacher Appreciation Week and the accompanying National Teacher Day.

According to the National Education Agency website, there was a National Teacher Day in 1953 and again in 1980, as proclaimed by the U.S. Congress. In 1985, the NEA voted to change the observation and celebration to the Tuesday of the first full week in May.

That's where this year's confusion comes from. The first day of May was on a Monday this year. That's the first day of the school week, but Sunday is the first day of the traditional calendar in the United States. So, some people and schools are celebrating National Teacher Day and Teacher Appreciation Week this week.

However, the National Education Agency and the National PTA have announced that the events are next week, May 7-12. National Teacher Day will be May 9, 2017. And, that's good for letter writers who haven't yet written a letter to their favorite teacher! There's still time! You can write a letter to your favorite teacher from when you were in school, or if you have kids of your own now, you can write a letter of appreciation to one or all of their teachers.

If you need something to get your letter started, the NEA and PTA presidents have posted their own letter of appreciation online, and the PTA has a downloadable thank you card that parents can printout for their kids to give to teachers.

#ThankATeacher

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

New Book Features Letters of Kirk Douglas and Wife Anne

http://www.reporternews.com/story/life/books/2017/04/30/kirk-douglas-wife-anne-she-most-difficult-woman-ever-met-new-book/100747486/
According to Running Press Book Publishers, today is the official publication date for a new book focusing on the letters of one of Hollywood's longest lasting couples -- Kirk and Anne Douglas.

"Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood" by Kirk Douglas and Anne Douglas with Marcia Newberger and a Foreword by Michael Douglas features the letters that Kirk and Anne exchanged during their courtship and marriage. Later this month, they will celebrate their 63rd anniversary.

In a USA Today article, the couple explain how they initially started out working on a book about all the letters Kirk had received from other celebrities through the years. But, when Anne brought out a box of their own letters, their focus changed. The story quotes Anne as saying that letters are "so personal, something that touches you or disappoints you. But today, you get an email. It does nothing to you! It’s cold. It’s the new world. I like the old world better."

For the complete story, read the article on the Abilene Reporter-News website.  The book is available in hardback or ebook from most booksellers. More details are available on the Running Press website.

Thanks to my good friend Laura for sharing this story with me!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Happy May Day!

When I was a young girl, the kids in my neighborhood celebrated May Day -- May 1 -- by leaving little baskets of flowers on the front porches of our neighbors. We would ring the doorbells and then run and hide, peeking from behind the shrubs to see the neighbors' faces when they found the flowers.

I think we heard about the May Day tradition at school and from our mothers, who told us of their similar adventures from their childhood. I don't remember what kind of "baskets" we used, but it seems like we fashioned something out of paper. Maybe we wove paper strips into baskets at school or taped together notebook paper at home. I'm sure the flowers were wildflowers growing in the yards, maybe even dandelions!

Wikipedia says the tradition of May baskets has been fading since the late 20th century, which is a shame, because a little basket of flowers might just brighten up someone's day!

Even if you're not dropping anonymous baskets of flowers off at the neighbors' houses today, you can still send a little bit of May cheer with your letters via the great Botanical Art stamps that the U.S. Postal Service offers. They came out last year, so if your post office doesn't have them anymore, you can order them online at usps.com.

Happy letterwriting!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Considering the Benefits of Letter Writing

As the United States' National Card and Letter Writing Month, as well as the UK's National Stationery Week, comes to a close this weekend, this seems like a good time to consider some of the benefits of handwritten correspondence.

The first thing that comes to mind is that handwriting a letter requires that we slow down in a world that is often too fast-paced for our own good. For starters, when I write in a hurry, my handwriting is terrible. So, the slower I go, the better I write. That's probably true content-wise, too. When I write fast, I tend to leave out letters or words, subconsciously combining words. For example, "with the" becomes "withe." Being aware of such things forces me to slow down and write a proper letter.

Secondly, the entire ritual of letter writing -- using a pen to hand-write a message on stationery, folding it and putting it into a stamped and addressed envelope and then putting it in the mailbox -- invokes an air of gracious living. When we do that, we are somehow more civilized than we are when we're posting something silly on Facebook or sending out an abbreviated text message.

And then there's the fun part of the process. Sending a "real" letter gives us the chance to add a "P.S." at the end, enclose a stick of our favorite gum and then decorate the outside of the envelope with colored pens and stickers. We can even choose postage stamps to match the color of the envelope, the mood of the letter or the personality of the recipient.

This weekend, try writing a letter to someone who usually doesn't write letters. While you might be less likely to receive a return message, there's always the chance you might introduce a new letter writer into the world.

Happy letterwriting!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

USPS reveals new first-of-its-kind 'Total Eclipse' stamps

Today, the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to release a new, innovative postage stamp featuring an image that will change with the heat from your finger.


The Total Solar Eclipse stamps initially show an image of the sun completely blacked out by the moon. But, a second image is hiding beneath. Using the body heat of your thumb or fingers and rubbing the eclipse image will reveal an underlying image of the Moon. The image reverts back to the eclipse once it cools.

The stamp features an image from a photograph taken by astrophysicist Fred Espenak, aka Mr. Eclipse, of Portal, Arizona, that shows a total solar eclipse seen from Jalu, Libya, on March 29, 2006. Espenak also took the photograph of the Full Moon featured on the stamp.
  
The Total Solar Eclipse stamp commemorates the upcoming solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017, which will be seen throughout most of the United States, although the total eclipse will be visible only in a 70-mile wide path that will track across the sky from Oregon to South Carolina, according to predictions. For more information on the eclipse, visit the NASA website or eclipse-dedicated sites, such as Eclipse2017.org. Information also is available from the USPS in the stamp announcement.

The Forever First Class stamps will be released in a First-Day-of-Issue ceremony at 1:30 p.m. June 20 at the Art Museum of the University of Wyoming in Laramie. 

On that day, the university will celebrate the summer solstice, and before the stamp ceremony, visitors may witness an architectural feature of the building where a single beam of sunlight shines on a silver dollar embedded in the floor, which occurs at noon on the summer solstice in the UW Art Museum’s Rotunda Gallery.

This is the first U.S. stamp application of thermochromic ink. The inks are vulnerable to UV light and should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible to preserve this special effect. To help ensure longevity, the Postal Service will be offering a special envelope to hold and protect the stamp pane for a nominal fee.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Celebrating World Stationery Day!

Today, April 26, 2017, is known as World Stationery Day, in conjunction with National Stationery Week and the London Stationery Show, which wraps up today. The theme of this year's World Stationery Day is "Writing matters."

On the World Stationery Day website, there are quite a few examples of why writing matters, including an A to Z list of reasons.

To me, writing -- as in handwriting a letter on real paper -- matters because it is a personal connection between the sender and the receiver. It's a tangible communication, something both people involved actually touched.

From another perspective, that of a writer, (hand)writing matters because it allows my thoughts to flow onto the page in a way that typing on a computer or phone keyboard doesn't. Some things that are in my mind just need to be written by hand on paper.

Why does writing matter to you?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Don't Forget the Cards!

USPS cards
As I mentioned back on April 1, the U.S. Postal Service officially named April as National Card and Letter Writing Month back in 2001. Many of us shorten that to simply Letter Writing Month, but we really shouldn't forget the cards!

According to a 2016 report by the Greeting Card Association, Americans buy about 6.5 billion greeting cards each year. Yep, that "billion," with a "b."

I know many letter writers think of greeting cards as less personal than a handwritten letter, but it's important to remember that the two aren't mutually exclusive. Just because you send a card doesn't mean you can't also write a letter. And, just because you enjoy writing letters doesn't mean you can't fold it up and put it in a pretty (or funny or touching or ironic...) card.

There are so many different types of cards nowadays and in such a wide price range. If you're budget-minded, check out the dollar stores. They often have nice cards for 50 cents or less. On the other hand, you can buy a customized greeting card for $35 on Etsy. And, of course, there are many, many cards at every price in between.

Maybe you can even buy greeting cards at your local post office. There's a rack of cards at my post office! And, there are some cards -- both notecards and greeting cards -- on the USPS website.

One of the great things about cards is that they often have professionally written verse, so if you can't think of the perfect thing to say, you don't have to worry about it -- someone else thought of it for you!

So, when you're writing letters this month, don't forget the cards!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Letter Writing Month Wraps Up This Week

As the United States' National Letter Writing Month comes to a close this week, National Stationery Week is just getting started in the UK.

If you're looking for some inspiration in your letter writing, here are a couple of articles that will provide all the encouragement you need:

* Joy Bailey, a 27-year-old from Grapevine, Texas, is featured in The Dallas Morning News. She has a website, SpreadJoy24-7.com, about the letters she shares with the world.

*  In Camarillo, California, Julie Merrick has long known the power of writing letters. She turned that knowledge into a TEDx talk, "The Gift That Can Last Forever." You can read more about Julie in an article in the Ventura County Star and on her blog, A Letter A Week.

Now, go write some letters!


Friday, April 21, 2017

Earth Day is April 22

Tomorrow, April 22, is Earth Day, which began in 1970 as a national day to focus on the environment. The U.S. Postal Service is celebrating Earth Day this year by continuing and encouraging others to practice good recycling. The USPS recycling program is known as USPS Blue Earth; you can read more on the Blue Earth website.

Letter writers (and receivers) around the world can join in by recycling as much of what comes in the mail as we can. If your community has a recycling program, use it instead of the trash can to dispose of unwanted paper, cardboard, plastic, etc. Don't forget to reuse as much as possible, too. Check to see if the paper, envelopes, boxes, packaging material and more can be reused, either in their original form or altered in mail art projects.

One way to support the USPS and to add a bit of "green" to your mail: Purchase some of the upcoming "Green Succulent" stamps. They are for First Class International letters, at a value of $1.15 (for a 1-ounce letter). The round stamp features a photo of the echeveria plant. They aren't available yet, but you can pre-order the stamps online.

Happy Earth Day and Happy Letterwriting!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

He'll mail it for you

Ryan Epp, a former computer science student at Temple University, has created a new service -- mailing letters to Congress. According to The Temple News, the student newspaper, Epp came up with the idea when he wrote a letter to a senator but didn't have a stamp. He searched for a service that would mail the letter for him, and when he couldn't find such a business, he started one -- Snail Mail Congress.

Anyone wanting to write a letter to a U.S. senator or representative can write their letter on the website, pay $1.28, and Epp will format and print the letter. Then, he'll put it in an envelope, address it, add postage and mail it. The service even offers a tracking service.

On his website, Epp says that the fee covers only the exact cost of the paper, envelope, postage, etc.

If you'd like some tips on How to Write Your Congressman/Woman, check out my February blog post on that topic.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Patriot Letters

Boston was a busy city Monday, with both the annual marathon and the Patriot's Day Parade taking place yesterday. The marathon may have lasted all afternoon for some runners, but the parade was over in less than an hour. Immediately following the parade was a reenactment of Paul Revere's April 18, 1775, ride to warn people of the approaching British troops.

More information about Paul Revere and that famous ride are available at the Paul Revere House in Boston, which is also hosting a letter-related event. If you're in Boston today and tomorrow -- April 18 and 19 -- you might want to drop by the museum, located at 19 N. Square in Boston, and take a look at the collection "Your Own, Paul Revere" which features some of the letters written by the Revere family and their friends.

Those attending will also get a chance to see examples of vintage postcards sent by tourists in the 19th and 20th centuries. According to the Paul Revere House website, some postcards in the collection feature the Revere House, others showcase the surrounding North End neighborhood. Everyone will also have a chance to practice their quill pen writing skills and make a postcard to send from the Revere House.

From the Northeast Document Conservation Center
Another interesting Paul Revere-related letter story is about the "Lost" Paul Revere letter, dated May 2, 1775 -- almost 242 years ago. According to an article by Julie Martin on the Northeast Document Conservation Center website, the letter was taken to the Paul Revere House, where its authenticity was immediately recognized. The museum worked with the family that owned the letter to allow the NEDCC to do some restoration work on the old and damaged letter. The letter was treated and then digitized so that further study could be done without injuring the original document.

According to the site, later, the museum was able to acquire the letter for its collection.

What a letter writing history!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Weekend Letterwriting Topics

Vintage card from The Graphics Fairy
This weekend, we’re a month into Spring in the northern hemisphere, and here in Texas, the

As you’re writing letters this weekend, here are a few topics you can write about:

* The weather. What's happening in your world today? Is it sunny or rainy? Is there still some snow on the ground? Is this typical?

* Spring holiday(s) you celebrate. What do you celebrate? How?

* Sports. Here in the U.S. baseball and softball are going strong right now. Do you play sports? What's your favorite sport? Your favorite team?

* As we move from winter to spring and into summer, our food choices often change. What are your favorite spring foods? Include a recipe in your letter!

Happy letter writing!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Letters of Artists

If you're going to be in South Florida next week, you will have the opportunity to attend the opening of "Pen to Paper," an exhibit of letters written by various artists, as well as attend an accompanying lecture at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Robert Motherwell (from the Smithsonian)
The letters are a selection from the Smithsonian Institute’s Archives of American Art. It includes handwritten letters from Berenice Abbott, Mary Cassatt, Frederic Edwin Church, Howard Finster, Harriet Hosmer, Ray Johnson, Georgia O’Keeffe, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Motherwell, Maxfield Parrish, Edward Weston, and many others.

According to the website www.SouthFlorida.com, the exhibit includes 38 letters written by 32 American icons and "marks the start of a national Smithsonian tour of the letters, which span the early 1800s through the 1980s and feature love letters, notes and elaborately illustrated missives."

"Pen to Paper" opens at the Norton on Tuesday, April 18. On Thursday, April 20, Liza Kirwin, Deputy Director, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, will introduce a range of artists’ writings in a lecture "Archives of American Art from A-Z." 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Recycling and Writing Letters!

 
I love stationery. Cute, quirky, simple, elegant...it doesn't really matter. I just almost can't resist it.

But, I know that stationery -- especially fancy stationery -- isn't necessary for letter writing. Believe me, a letter written on plain notebook paper will be just as enthusiastically received as one written on expensive paper.

Even if you don't have access to notebook paper, there is paper all around that can be recycled into writing paper, envelopes, cards, etc. I'm always saving different types of paper to reuse, such as the comics from the Sunday newspaper, magazine pages, pages from damaged books, etc.

But, if you're really into to recycling or really need paper, there are even more sources of paper readily available...food packaging, junk mail, computer printouts that are no longer needed, old school papers, etc. Sometimes, it takes a little creativity to use paper that has already been used. Addresses can be difficult to see if the paper has words or pictures on it, so you might need to use labels. Other options are to write the address on a small piece of paper and tape it to the envelope or to use some type of correction fluid or tape to make a spot on the envelope to write on. With such techniques, you might need to place clear tape over the address to make sure it doesn't smudge, scrape or fall off.

Limner over at Oh, Write Me has been blogging about some great mailings she's making from recycled Whole Foods Market paper bags. Click on over there. You'll be amazed by her talent!

Earth Day is coming up later this month (April 22), and these ideas are great ways of combining Earth-friendly ways with letter writing! Do you have any other ideas? Share them with us!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

American Poet, Deaf Education Pioneer Honored with Stamp

This morning, Robert Panara (1920-2014) became the 16th inductee into the U.S. Postal Service’s Distinguished American stamp series on a Forever stamp. The ceremony is going on as I write this.

Panara, a native New Yorker, lost his hearing after contracting spinal meningitis as a child. He became a renowned scholar in the field of deaf studies, as well as a poet. He taught at Gallaudet College (now known as Gallaudet University) and the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he helped found the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID).

“In creating this stamp, our goal was to communicate Robert Panara’s love and enthusiasm for literature, poetry and theatrical pieces as he used American Sign Language to make each topic more dramatic and enlightening," said U.S. Postal Service Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President David Williams. "Poetry and drama came to life through his unique style of expression, Robert was famous for his ability to establish an immediate rapport with his students, through fluid, eloquent sign language which many described as ‘sculptures in the air’.” 


He wrote poetry and in 1997 his book of poetry, "On His Deafness and Other Melodies Unheard" was published. Panara also translated several plays into sign language and was one of the founders of the Waterford, Connecticut-based National Theatre of the Deaf, which provided deaf actors with a venue for thriving in the performing arts. At NTID, he founded the Drama Club, and today's stamp dedication took place there at a theater named for Panara.

The Robert Panara stamp is a Forever 2-ounce stamp, which means that it can be used to mail a letter that weighs 2 ounces, which has a current price of 70 cents. You can also order framed artwork, ceremony program, digital color postmark and other philatelic products featuring the Panara stamp.

So, in this month that is known as both National Card and Letter Writing Month and National Poetry Month, we can send letters bearing stamps honoring American poet Robert Panara.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Twitter reveals another letter writing project

Lately, I have been posting more on the 365 Letters Facebook page and Twitter account (search @365Letters on Facebook and Twitter) to try and encourage more people to write letters and to provide news, information and tips to those who are already corresponding regularly. The new interactions are introducing me to even more letter writers around the world.

This morning, I came across a mention of Jodi Ann Bickley and her project, One Million Lovely Letters. Jodi lives in Birmingham, England, and has an interesting story to tell. She's done a TEDx talk and has an exhibit opening in Birmingham today.

It sounds like a great project!

For more information, visit Jodi's website or Twitter page.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Letters of the Masters

We don't really watch a lot of sports at my house. But, we usually do tune in to the big events, like the Super Bowl, the World Series and the Masters Tournament, which is taking place right now and scheduled to finish up Sunday, April 9.

So, what fun it was to discover a story about all of the letters Danny Willett, the 2016 Masters Tournament champion, received after he earned the green jacket. According to the story in the Augusta Chronicle, Willett received letters from fellow Masters champions Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle and Arnold Palmer, who died just a few months later.

And, the letters aren't just to the winners. The Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the Masters Tournament, has many letters sent by golfers who have played there through the years. 

Hopefully the tradition of letter writing will continue. The article quotes professional golfer Rory McIlroy as saying he plans to write congratulatory letters to the winners -- once he retires and is no longer competing against them.

For the full story, go to the Augusta Chronicle

Whether or not you're watching the Masters Tournament this weekend, write a letter of congratulations to someone you know. Let them know you're proud of them!

Happy letterwriting!
 

Friday, April 7, 2017

April 26 is World Stationery Day!

Letter writers in the United States have been celebrating National Letter Writing Month (also known as National Card and Letter Writing Month) this month, but a love of analog correspondence and all the things that go with it -- stationery, cards, pens, pencils, stamps, etc. -- does not end on the shores of America. The London Stationery Show, scheduled for April 25-26, 2017, organizes National (UK) Stationery Week (April 24-30) and World Stationery Day (April 26).

According to the World Stationery Day website, the event celebrates the written word, as well as stationery. Its aim is to get people all over the world talking and writing about stationery and why writing by hand is important. And to send more letters and cards, not just text or email.

Using the hashtags #writingmatters and #keepwriting, organizers encourage everyone to share the joy and importance of hand-writing letters, notes, journals, etc.

For more information, visit http://worldstationeryday.com/ and http://www.nationalstationeryweek.com/.
 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Informed Delivery: It's Like a Crystal Ball for Your Mailbox

(From https://informeddelivery.usps.com/box/pages/intro/start.action)
Citizens across the United States will soon have the opportunity to peer into a digital "crystal ball" every morning and see what the day's mail service will bring. The U.S. Postal Service is introducing the Informed Delivery program to most of the country this month, letting everyone who signs up know by email what letters will soon be delivered.

According to the USPS website, participants in the new service will be able to receive images of the mail that will be placed in their mailbox each day. Black and white images of actual letter-sized mail pieces, processed by USPS sorting equipment, will be provided via email each morning. Flat-sized pieces, such as catalogues or magazines, may be added in the future.

The project has apparently been tested in several major metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, and Washington DC. But, by April 14, 2017, the USPS expects to offer the service to most of the remaining ZIP codes in the U.S.

Bob Dixon, the executive program director of Informed Delivery, told NPR that participants in specific scenarios — like roommates who misplaced each other's mail or people who traveled frequently — found the daily messages helpful. "I and many people manage their life through a cellphone or tablet or some other digital medium," Dixon says in the NPR story. "As we become busier and busier, it's important to have things in one place."

The service can help fight mail theft; you'll know every day what's supposed to be in the mailbox and can alert authorities immediately if something is missing. 

For more information and to find out if your ZIP code is included in the program, visit the USPS website's Informed Delivery page.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Easy letter writing

Sometimes, even those of us who love to write letters get overwhelmed by everyday life and don't have time to mail out long, newsy letters. Here are some ideas for keeping up your correspondence during National Letter Writing Month, even when you are super busy:

* Put together a mini letter writing kit and keep it in your purse, backpack, briefcase, portfolio, etc. include some simple stationery, stamps, a pen, addresses of people you write to regularly. You'll be ready to write, any time, any place. 

* Remember that every "letter" doesn't have to be monumental mail. Send a postcard or a greeting card with a note written in the blank spaces. 

* Actually schedule in time to write letters. Once it's on your calendar, you'll make time for it. 

* Write your letter in snippets, a little now and more later. Let your letter's recipient know what you're doing. Write down the date and time of each entry. It's sort of like a journal letter.

* Get a nice sized envelope -- maybe 6x9 inches or even just a large greeting card envelope -- and keep it handy for a letter to a specific person. As you go through your day or week, fill the envelope with clippings from magazines and newspapers or even printouts from something you saw online...a cartoon you thought was funny, a recipe, an article about someone from your hometown. When you think of something to say, write it down on a sticky note or some other small note paper and put it in the envelope. When you have enough to make a suitable package letter, seal it up and put it in the mail.

Happy letterwriting!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

It's National Poetry Month, too

In addition to being National Letter Writing Month, it's also National Poetry Month, which was founded in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets.

One of the goals of the AAP is to encourage the reading of poetry. That was something most of us did back in school, when the English teachers assigned poetry as one of our lessons. But, as the business of adulthood takes over our lives, poetry is one of those things that tends to fall to the wayside. With jobs to go to, meals to cook, laundry to wash...who has time to sit around reading poetry?

And, yet, if we take the time to do just that -- take a break and read a poem -- we can rediscover the joy of poetry, maybe even appreciate it more than we ever have.

One of the projects of this year's NPM is called "Dear Poet." Students in fifth through 12th grade are invited to participate in the multimedia education project by writing letters in response to poems written and read by some of the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors. To participate, students need to watch the videos of the chancellors reading and discussing one of their poems. Then, write them a letter in response and send it by post or email to the Academy of American Poets by April 30, 2017. All letters will be considered for publication on Poets.org in May 2017, and the chancellors will reply to some of the letters. For all of the details, go to the Dear Poet page online.

To celebrate both National Poetry Month and National Letter Writing Month, enclose a poem with your next letter!

Here's one by W.T. Goodge, published in his poetry collection "Hits! Skits! and Jingles!" in 1899:

The Postman
by W.T. Goodge

It is morning in the country and the postman's at the gate
With his letters and his packets, and he has no time to wait.
"Post!" he calls, to give you warning, and you start and stop your yawning
In the country, in the morning when the postman's at the gate.
And the country maiden blushes, for the envelope is pink;
And there's someone gone to Sydney, and you need n't stop to think,
And the country maiden blushes; for the envelope she rushes,
And she giggles and she gushes when the postman's at the gate!

It is morning in the country and the postman's at the gate,
And a worried woman hurries for the letter that is late;
For her husband is a drover and he's always been a rover
And he takes the cattle over for the Bungebah estate;
And there lately came a rumour he was injured on the track,
And her hand it shakes and trembles -- for the envelope is black.
The suspense is overbearing -- now the envelope she's tearing --
And she gives a cry despairing -- and the postman's at the gate!

It is morning in the country and the postman's at the gate.
On the message he carries does he ever speculate?
On the sorrow and the sadness, on the goodness and the badness,
On the happiness and gladness, on the love and on the hate?
He's the oracle of fortune, he's the Delphic up-to-date,
He's the mystic modern Mercury, the harbinger of fate;
Such a jarred and jangled chorus are the fates that hover o'er us,
And we know not what's before us when the postman's at the gate!


Monday, April 3, 2017

Some Letter Writing Topics for National Letter Writing Month

Woman Writing a Letter (1655) by Gerard ter Borch



Sometimes, sitting down to write a letter can be a daunting task, especially if you’re new at letter
writing or if you’re writing to someone you don’t know too well. In honor of National Card and Letter Writing Month (aka National Letter Writing Month), here are a few letter writing topics to get you started:

*  Describe your surroundings. Tell your letter’s recipient about the town you live in, your house, your room, your school, etc. What’s your commute to work/school like? What do you see when you look out your window?

*  Talk about the weather. It’s not as cliché as it sounds, especially if you’re writing to someone who lives in a completely different environment than you or if your area has recently experienced some unusual or noteworthy weather.

*  Share your opinion of your favorite band or author or movie. Explain why you like what you like and what you don’t like.

Remember to ask your penpal some questions, too. You want to give them something to write back about!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Finding people to write to

Here in Northcentral Texas, we’re having a rainy Sunday…perfect weather for writing letters on this second day of National Card and Letter Writing Month!

Many avid letter writers are encouraging everyone to write a letter every day this month. While that might not be feasible for everyone, it’s a great time to make the effort to send out some mail.

If you are new to letter writing – or even if you’ve been writing letters for a long time but you’re in a rut right now – you may be wondering just who you should write letters to. Here are a few suggestions about who you can write to in celebration of NCALWM:
  •  Family members – Parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles…write to them all!
  • Old friends who live far away
  • Former teachers who influenced your life
  • The editor of your local newspaper…share an opinion about something in your community
  • Your government representatives – tell them what kind of a job you think they’re doing in office
  • Strangers. Take a cue from the founder of The World Needs More Love Letters and write letters to strangers that you leave in public places, such as buses, libraries, shops, park benches, etc.
  Now, go find a pen (or pencil) and some paper and start writing that letter!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

It's National Letter Writing Month!


Today is the beginning of National Letter Writing Month – also known as National Card and Letter Writing Month – as recognized by the U.S. Postal Service since 2001.

Through the years, it seems, the USPS and other organizations have observed a variety of letter writing weeks and months. As far back as 1940, the postal service was celebrating Oct. 1-7 as National Letter Writing Week, which is when the poster at right was issued by the Illinois WPA Art Project. 

By 1980, National Letter Writing Week was designated as Feb. 24-March 1 with the issue of a set of special 15-cent stamps featuring phrases such as “Letters Lift Spirits,” “Letters Preserve Memories” and “Letters Shape Opinions.”

Letter writing weeks also are sometimes observed in January and September, and February has become known for InCoWriMo – International Correspondence Writing Month.

But, in 2001, the U.S. Postal Service announced April as National Card and Letter Writing Month, expanding what had previously been a weeklong celebration. That year, the USPS encouraged Americans to participate in the “Birthday Wishes to America” project with the National Postal Museum in honor of the 225th birthday of the United States of America.

Since then, several promotions have highlighted April as NCLWM or NLWM. In 2015, the USPS offered a set of stamps and matching stickers featuring the phrase “From Me to You.”

Let’s continue the tradition and celebrate National Card and Letter Writing Month throughout April!

Happy Letter Writing!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Put a smile on their faces!

Saturday is April 1 -- April Fools' Day, a day beloved by pranksters in many countries around the world.

When you're writing letters this weekend, entertain the recipient of your correspondence with a joke or two. If you don't know any jokes, check out the Reader's Digest website for some funny stories that are appropriate for people of all ages. 

Happy letter writing!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fashionable Postage at the USPS

Last month, the U.S. Postal Service introduced a set of stamps honoring the late fashion designer Oscar de la Renta. The Oscar de la Renta stamp pane includes 11 images — an evocative black-and-white portrait of de la Renta and 10 stamps that show details from some of the gowns he designed. 

The First Class Forever stamps cost 49 cents each and are sold in sheets of 11. Other products in the line include Press Sheet with Die-cut, Digital Color Postmark Keepsake (2 panes), First-Day Cover (set of 11), Digital Color Postmark (set of 11), Framed Art, and a Ceremony Program.

You can read more about the stamps and order some on the USPS website.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Six-year-old 'Kindness Ninja' spreads joy with letters

A 6-year-old boy from Pittsboro, Indiana, calls himself the "Kindness Ninja" and practices that kindness by sending letters of encouragement to everyone from classmates to college basketball players.

"“I just wanted to lift other people’s hearts to make them feel very good," Brad Ades told WLFI TV station in Lafayette, Indiana.

You can read or watch the story, as distributed by the CBS News Wire at WREG-Newschannel 3.

What a great story! (Thanks to my husband, Tony, for spotting it on the news and sharing it with me!)
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