Photo Inspiration | Immortality


About the Image: This photo features vintage postcards my Love Notes friend Fran B sent last year. I am in awe of the handwriting and the well-preserved ink (and postcards themselves) after so many decades. If you look closely at the postmarks, you can see the postcards were written and mailed in 1950, 1944, and 1909 (112 years ago!). I will eventually write a longer post about them, but for now, please enjoy the photo with an appropriate line from an Emily Dickinson letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

Pause for a Poet

I’ve had a busy, busy week as I’m experiencing a major transition.  I thought I wouldn’t have time to post again for at least another two weeks, but today’s fun mail compelled me to pause and share.

I received three postcards today for bookish swaps, two from Eric, who typically sends two postcards. Every now and then a postcard makes me squeal with glee. This one certainly did.

Longfellow Home

Longfellow’s Home, Portland, Maine.

Perhaps, if you’re not a lover of poetry or of American poetry, you have no idea why this excites me. Maybe, you assume it’s because this is a vintage postcard.  That would be a great guess, but that’s not exactly it.  I thoroughly appreciate having this card in my possession, one that, as Eric pointed out, was printed just 30-40 years after Longfellow’s death.  So this truly vintage postcard adds to my excitement that this is a literary postcard that features a poet of old.  With the exception of reading Hiawatha last summer with my little one, I have not studied Longfellow since my graduate school days.  This was a a nice way to remind me to add him to my reading list.

The postcard back reads:

Longfellow’s Home.  The Longfellow Home, erected in 1785, is situated in the business center of the city.  The building and precious relics are in care of the Maine Historical Society, and is open to visitors.

Interesting (and irrelevant) tidbit–when Longfellow was born Portland, Maine was a part of Massachusetts.

Since the back is just as wonderful as the front, you might as well take a look.

Longfellow Home. Postcard Back

Postcard Back

Did you notice the postage? Take a closer look.

Longfellow Postage and Handstamped Postmark

Longfellow Postage and Postmark

My utter delight was magnified by Eric’s matching of the postage with postcard theme!  And don’t you love Longfellow’s portraits, all that beautiful wild, white hair?

The postcard took a little beating as it traveled through the United States Postal System.  Some people are bothered by the “damage done” to postcards sent “naked” through the mail, but I like the visible “scars.”  Something about them makes the postcard feel more “authentic.”

If you read the postcard, you’ll notice that Eric ends with a question:

If you had the choice, would you prefer being celebrated during your lifetime like [Longfellow] was or after like Dickinson?

Tough, tough question.  I’m on the fence.  My volumes–literally boxes full–of unpublished writings suggest that I subconsciously eschew the limelight.  While, perhaps, some celebrity would be tolerated, I’d probably be more comfortable with anonymity.  Posthumous popularity would benefit my family, I assume, and that’s a good thing. But beyond notoriety and (perhaps) financial gain, there’s also something wonderfully satisfactory about bearing witness to the light your work brings to others.

How would you answer?  Popularity while living or when you’re dead?

Think about that. I’ll leave you with a poem that I’m going to read tonight to my son–The fun-loving, mischievous daughters remind me of him.

The Children’s Hour by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Between the dark and the daylight,
   When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
   That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
   The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
   And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
   Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
   And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
   Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
   To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
   A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
   They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
   O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
   They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
   Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
   In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
   Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
   Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
   And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
   In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
   Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
   And moulder in dust away!


Postcrossing…I’m back!

I hadn’t sent postcards via Postcrossing in a looooonnnnng time, so I sent out a bunch a few weeks ago simply because I was in the mood to write postcards. I dropped into the “Goin’ Postal” store minutes away from my home and mailed an eclectic set of postcards based on receivers’ varied interests in tourist postcards, bookish postcards, coffee and indigenous peoples of the Americas…some in envelopes, some naked (written on and stamped).  Here’s what I sent–

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I checked my P.O. Box  yesterday and the postcards have started rolling in.  They are just as varied as the ones I sent out…

Czestochowa.  Aleja N.M.P.

Czestochowa. Aleja N.M.P.

This first card came from Misia in Poland.  This is the Avenue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Czestochowa.  I know this–thanks to Google’s translation tool. 😉

Ainika from Estonia sent a cute Snoopy card:

Postcrossing Received 06-26-14

Translation: “You don’t need many friends, but you need good friends!”

A little out of season, but I think Ainika was focusing on the message.  Besides, Peanuts cuteness is always in season as far as I’m concerned!

And more cuteness from Cesar in Spain, Palencia to be exact. He describes his home as “a small city full of art and crossed by the road to Santiago.”

Translation:  Fievel Goes West

Translation: Fievel Goes West

I remember watching An American Tail and Fievel Goes West with my one of my nephews–who is now 24, grown and married–and I’ve been partial to Fievel since some college buddies told me I look like him (and therefore, started calling me “Mousey”).

I love this illustration:

Rudi Hurlzmeier, "Noch'n Gedicht. Illustration from the Lord Brummel

Rudi Hurlzmeier, “Noch’n Gedicht.” Illustration from Lord Brummel

A bear reading outdoors under a tree?  How many of my favorites can you cram into one image?

Google translate didn’t help much with this one.  I think “Noch’n Gedicht” means “another poem” or something along those lines.  Please correct me, if I’m wrong.  Oh, don’t be fooled. This card did not come from Germany.  It was sent by USA Postcrosser Jane in Kansas City.

Another book-themed postcard came from Don who sends greetings from New Jersey (USA):

Glen Baxter, from the Bug House Archives

Glen Baxter, from the Bug House Archives

And last, another from the USA–Brad sent this wonderful snail mail postcard from Pennsylvania Amish Country.

Pennsylvania Amish Country, Photo by Anthony L. Iezzi

Pennsylvania Amish Country, Photo by Anthony L. Iezzi

Brad is retired and gets to study photography and art all day!  He also has a website that reflects his passion for postcards.  Check it out here:  The Postcard Nut.

What can make great postcards even better?  Interesting postage and postmarks, of course!  (Click an image for a closer look).


Teddy Bear Tea Party!

Teddy bears are among my favorite things–they certainly bring a smile to my face. This week tried my patience (and stamina) as I struggled to catch up and make up for the time I lost last week. Thankfully, this was a GREAT mail week and I found treats in my mailbox daily.

One of my swap-bot buddies, susieq11, organized a Teddy Bear Postcard swap because I missed the first one while I was in transition. Wasn’t that sweet of her? Here’s the beautiful postcard I received. It traveled from England to my mailbox (as you can see from the stamps). It is absolutely adorable and made me smile from ear to ear all morning.

“Panda Came to Tea”
Photograph by Irena Thompson, Bears and Toys from Irena’s Collection

And if the postcard isn’t cute enough, look at the AWESOME classic Winnie-the-Pooh stamp my partner, denimblu14, affixed to the postcard:

Winnie-the-Pooh and Rabbit

And now, here are the postcards I sent to my partner:

Family of Bears at the Beach

This postcard represents my farewell to the far too hot, far too short summer! My swap partner loves summer, so hopefully, this postcard will be a cheerful reminder of the heat when she’s had too much of the Ohio winter.

I found the the beautiful white bear that follows among items I packed between 8 and 16 years ago. (We found them in the attic of our “old” house which we moved into in 2004. I just can’t remember if they were packed for that move or for the move before that–in 1996–from Florida to New Orleans). This bear postcard comes from a collection of Hallmark postcards published by Warner Press. Each postcard features a Bible verse on the back.

“Seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14

While we’re on the subject of teddy bear postcards, you might as well relax and enjoy some of the others in my collection!

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These bears have traveled from various places in the U.S., from Russia, Belarus, the Netherlands and other places around the world. They’re not all so “teddy,” but they’re all cute!

A Giant Potato, Roses and Pie

What do a giant potato, roses and pie have in common?  I found all three in my mailbox today–and today is my birthday.  What better way to celebrate a birthday than with a good ol’ Idaho potato, pie and beautiful roses?  All of these were sent to me for swap-bot swaps.  Take a look.

Can you imagine this potato landing on your doorstep? “We grow potatoes in Idaho,” this swapper humorously adds as she closes her postcard note.

Edgar Rice Burroughs Stamp with Salt Lake City Postal Mark

The Idaho Potato was sent for a “Book Worm” swap.  Swappers had to write a little something about a great read.  My partner recommends Tarzan, so it’s neat that she used the Burroughs stamp.  Literary stamps are among my favorites. She also recommends The Book of Mormon for its perspective on “Ancient American History.”  I might have to check it out!

Pie Rows, 1961 by Wayne Theibaud, American artist (b. 1920). This was sent for the “O Happy Day” Postcard Swap. For this swap we had to send a postcard that captured something that makes us happy. Pie makes the sender pretty happy! Check out her fantastic calligraphy below!

Here’s the back of the card with the “pie sender’s” beautiful calligraphy:


And lastly, beautiful roses from fellow swap-bot Sharp Shooter, Fundygirl.  You’ve seen her floral work before in “Good Mail In…”  These delightful roses were sent for a Dorothy Parker themed photo swap, “One Perfect Rose.”  Swappers had to send partners a photo of one object mentioned in the poem.  Fundygirl notes, there are three roses, but they’re all perfect! 🙂

“One Perfect Rose?” Photo by Deema (Fundygirl)

Happy Reading!