Three Postcards from China and “The River Merchant’s Wife”

“Katydid,” New World Press, Beijing China

After two weeks of forgetting to check the P.O. Box, we finally went to retrieve the mail and found not one piece of mail in the box. Not one! I was devastated! Okay, I was not really surprised at all. I have not been the best snail mail revolutionary lately. In fact, my snail mail life has been so chaotic that I just read a letter that was sent to me in April. April!

The snail mail gods are apparently displeased, so I’ll have to do a little work to gain their favor again. In addition to sending good mail out into the world, I will take advantage of this lull and catch up on some mailbox “show and tell.” Even though my “to be blogged” mail file is stuffed with interesting pieces waiting to be shared with you, for the last few months, I’ve focused on the “Pics” part of my blog title and neglected the “Posts” [which is short for postal mail, not blog posts]. Thus, the empty mailbox can serve a positive purpose. 😉

For today’s post, I’m sharing three postcards my friend Cy picked up in China a few years ago. I love the delicate artwork of these pieces and did my best to imitate them–minus the insects. And since I am in a mood for poetry, I’m sharing them with 20th century American poet Ezra Pound’s (1885- 1972) translation of “Traveling to Chang-kan,” the first of 8th century Tang Dynasty poet Li Po’s (Lǐ Bái 701-762) Two Letters from Chang-kan.

The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter
Ezra Pound

After Li Po

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chōkan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.
At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.
 

“Dragonfly,” New World Press, Beijing, China

 
At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever, and forever.
Why should I climb the look out?
 
At sixteen you departed
You went into far Ku-tō-en, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.
 

“Silkworms,” New World Press, Beijing, China

 
You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me.
I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
As far as Chō-fū-Sa.
 

I read this poem for the first time when I was in high school. I was drawn to the maturation processes of the couple and the complicated emotions of the poem. I remember discussing the poem in one of my high school classes (Literature or Creative Writing?) and falling so in love with the line “I desired my dust to be mingled” that I used it as the title of one of my own poems. Maybe, I’ll be brave enough to share it here.

If you’re interested in another translation of the poem, see East Asian Student’s translation here: The Ballad of Changgan by Li Bai.

Keep Dreaming

Art by Karen B.

Love Noters are an amazing group of people. They’re certainly my kind of people–artists and dreamers who love music, books, nature, paper, and ink. Thanks to my growing group of letter sisters, I have enough art to fill an art gallery and keep my heart full.

Today’s post features the abstracts created by Karen B, my partner for Love Notes 31, and “Dreams,” a short poem by Langston Hughes.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Art by Karen B.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Art by Karen B.

Karen’s art is beautifully understated with a bit of whimsy and seriousness at once. I’ve paired her work with Langston Hughes’s “Dream” because, like his, her work seems effortless but holds a world of complexity.

Until next time, hold fast to your dreams…

Happy World Postcard Day!

Today is the very first official World Postcard Day! I know it’s late and the post offices are closed, but I cannot let the very first World Postcard Day pass without sending at least a few postcards! I’m taking a break for the next hour to write some.

Won’t you join me in this endeavor?

Read all about World Postcard Day and the 151-year history of “humble postcard,” and then take a few moments this evening to write a postcard or two or ten.


About the Image: The World Postcard Day postcard was designed by Leandro Ferreira, a third year student of Design & Multimedia at Universidade da Beira Interior. He won the competition sponsored by Postcrossing and Fine Paper.

Letter from Lu! | Snail Mail Quick Tip

Squeals!!!

I received a “letter” from my little great-niece Lu [my niece Tiffany’s daughter]. Isn’t it adorable? I know you don’t understand the special language she used to write her letter, but trust me. It is full of ❤ for her favorite [great] aunt–me, of course! She even used my favorite colors!!!

Thank you for sharing your spectacular work, Lu!

Lu is the adorable baby in this post and this post. She’s now a whole two years old, grown enough to make art and send mail!

We’ll be spending a lot of time indoors over the next few weeks, and kids will probably be making art almost daily–drawings, sketches, paintings, crafts, and more. If you’re like me, you already have an entire museum of your kid’s art in albums, on the walls, in piles on your desk, and in a sealed bin beneath the art table. 😀  Do you really want the task of finding ways to display or store weeks more of artwork?

Of course not!

Lu’s special letter prompted me to offer another snail mail quick tip: Art in the mail!

Sending art mail is a cute way to dispose of  share some of the precious art your kids make. Simply place those one-of-a-kind masterpieces in an envelope and send them to grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, friends, and/or the kind senior citizen who has a soft spot for your family. This will not only let them know you’re thinking about them but will also provide a bit of  sunshine while we’re all sort of “stuck.”

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I send and receive a lot of art mail. So–even if you don’t have children, you can send your own art.

It is so easy, but yields so much joy!

Peace Reigns…

“Peace Reigns Over River.” Artist: Qiu Ying, Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Ink and color on silk.

Sacred hearts
Powered by love and above —
Energies of peace
Lily Wang

I received the postcard above a week or so ago and I have been seriously fascinated by it. According to the information provided on the postcard, this is only a part of Qiu Ying’s “Peace Reigns Over River.” That is difficult to imagine since the partial painting is filled with so many fine details and dozens upon dozens of stories. [Click the image twice for a closer look].

Qui Ying was a Chinese painter, one of four master artists of the Ming Dynasty. According to the brief biography on ArtNet, he “specialized in the gongbi technique, in which the brush was used to describe forms without flourish or expressive variation.” You can read more about Qui Ying here: China Online Museum.

The postcard was sent to me by my friend, Cy, who studies Chinese art and culture. In her message she pointed out some of the beautiful blessings of life, noting that though we are friends “in real life,” we have also been penpals for 30 years (Wow!): She writes:

Here’s to–photo walks during the day; beautiful scenes from nature; a new book by your favorite writer; being in your happy place; having your truths set you free; “liking” the love of your life; getting lost in a beautiful place; receiving mail from a penpal of 30 years.

To that we’ll add–the reign of peace and “sacred hearts” energized by “Love.”

microblog

Sometimes All You Can Do…

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  –1 Peter 5:7

It was such a pleasant surprise to find a card from my little “sister” Brittany in my mailbox when I returned from work today.

Photo/Scrapbook Page by Maggie Mae Sharp, Maggie’s Quill, Inc.

Sometimes all you can do…is bow your head and pray.

Brittany wrote that she thought about me when she saw and purchased this card almost four months ago. Sending it was delayed, but it arrived right on time–just when I need prayer and a good chuckle.

Brittany could have sent her loving message via text message, but I ❤ that she wrote it in a cute card and sent it via snail mail. I can tuck it in my planner or a journal and read it again and again.

Someone you know needs to know that you’re thinking about them, so grab a card and write a note. A couple of sentences go a long way to lift someone’s spirits.

Thanks for the prayers and the love, Brit!


Note about the card: The card comes from “Maggie Mae’s Scrapbook.” The back of the card gives a little history about the company: For many years, Maggie Mae Sharp has kept her favorite memories of family and friends in a scrapbook, combining nostalgic charm of antique photography with the wit and wisdom of treasured family jokes, quotes, scriptures, and common sense adages. Today, she brings some of her favorite combinations of pictures and words in greeting card form. Maggie Mae says, “I hope you will enjoy sharing some of my scrapbook memories with the special people God has placed inyour life.”

Many Postage Stamps + Washi Tape = Happier Mail

When an envelope that looks like this (below) arrives in your mailbox, you almost forget there might be something even more interesting inside!

After studying the stamps for several minutes, I did finally open the envelope to find an elegant handmade card from my penfriend Beth. She and I had not corresponded in quite some time, so I was overjoyed to receive a newsy letter from her.

“This Is the Day,” Handmade Card by Beth

My scanner is being weird, and no matter what I do, I can’t capture the vibrant colors in the card.  “In real life,” the white is whiter, the pink is “pinker” and the gold is “golder,” shinier, and more glittery.

Beth made the card with card stock, washi tape, and a scripture stamp. If I remember correctly, she’s the reason I made my first washi tape card (so embarrassed by it now) and postcards many moons ago. I haven’t made a washi card in years!

Her card comes at a good time. I’ve been bored with my washi tape (and my Cricut), but you can guess what I’ll be up to this weekend…

Thanks for the happy mail and the weekend therapy, Beth!

Blog Every Day? Yes Way!

After spending the better part of an afternoon “organizing” the incoming mail that cluttered my desk, I decided November will be “Pics and Post Catch-up Month.”  To make sure I follow through with the plan, I made a commitment to participate in BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month), which means I will post every day in November.   I just might be crazy since November for English professors means grading, grading, and more grading and lots of one-on-one meetings with students.  With less than four weeks left of the semester, it’s all downhill.  Really.  It already feels like someone pushed me down a hill while I am already speeding on roller skates.  So talk me out of this madness!

No?

Mail Call!

Mail Call!

Postcards, letters, scripture mail, quote mail, poems, photo inspirations, and so much more!  This is only a fraction of the clutter and it does not include many of the things I plan to blog about this month–photos I’ve captured, fun packages, and artsy and inspirational mail that found places on my walls and in my journals and planners.

I will not blog about the entire mountain of mail, but (starting tomorrow) I will blog about what I feel should be shared–because I find it interesting, unique, or beautiful.

I enlisted a crazy-busy-mom friend to join me in this venture–Brittany of OrdinarilyExtraordinaryMom.  Brittany, whom I’ve known since she was a teenager, is a faith/inspirational blogger who shares her experiences as a mom/wife/teacher/woman trying to make it through this life unscathed.  She also regularly features her adorable family.  She had an “all at once” life change, so I offered her a way out of this gig, but she replied, “I think I’ll need the daily dose of therapy.”

Me too, Brittany.  Me too.

 

 

 

#Write_On: 30 Letters in 30 Days

IMG_7370

Do you know April is National Letter Writing Month? Usually, I shouldn’t need a reason to write letters, but I decided to accept the Write_On Campaign’s invitation to write a letter every day in April.

It is a challenge. April is the most maddening month of the year for many academicians. My university’s semester ends this month, so time is tight: one-on-one conferences with most of my students, advising, making sure online grade books are updated, preplanning for fall, grading, grading, and more grading. The last thing I need is a “challenge,” but I’ve been “slipping” with my letter-writing quite a bit the last several months. My “letters to respond to” stack grows daily.  I even have a few parcels that have been packaged since December and January to be put in the mail.  I am waaaaay behind.  So I’m accepting the invitation–to get back into the swing of regular, intentional letter writing and “catch up” on all the letters and cards on my “to write list.”  I plan to write a letter or two nightly before heading to slumberland.

It’s such a sweet pleasure to sit down and write letters and prepare packages for family and friends.  I get a little frustrated when time and tasks get in the way of that.

Consider writing a letter every day this month. We’re only a few days in, so it’s not too late. Send a letter. Send a postcard. Send a quick note. If you don’t know where or how to begin, check out the Write_On Campaign’s website.  You’ll find lots of suggestions and inspiration.

Chronicle Books also has a nifty list of “30 People to Write for Letter Writing Month.”  If you’re still stumped, ask me. I never run out of ideas of what to send. 😀

And oh, the founders send out a wonderful package of freebies provided by some of the sponsors. Click below for a closer look.

Forgive me if this sounds like a “paid” advertisement.  It isn’t.  I’m just excited about mail. And stationery. And pens. And freebies, especially when quality is not sacrificed.  😉

Happy Letter Writing Month!

 

 

 

 

A Box Full of Nature

My family and I were in and out of town during the month of July and “work” started hours after we returned from our last trip.  There was little time to appreciate and share the goodies that filled my mailbox over the last few of weeks.  But know that I was elated to find “nature” in the stack of mail waiting for our return–postcards and a letter that arrived somewhat unexpectedly.

The first I’m sharing is a really adorable polar bear postcard Silke sent.  She’d told me a few weeks ago that she wanted to add a little fun to my mailbox.  Of course, to my advantage, I forgotten about her intent.

From the postcard back (translated from German): Polar bears have adjusted perfectly with their white fur to their arctic surrounding. When they approach their prey, mostly seals, they even hide their black noses, if possible'

From the postcard back (translated from German): Polar bears have adjusted perfectly with their white fur to their arctic surrounding. When they approach their prey, mostly seals, they even hide their black noses, if possible.

Silke added to the description:  “Now, you tell me how they know they have black noses?”  I laughed out loud, because now I’m wondering that very thing. Animal intelligence.  More polar bear facts she shared:

  • As adults, polar bears live mostly solitary lives
  • They are the world’s biggest land predators
  • They can mate with brown bears
  • Their habitat is endangered by the meltdown of arctic ice.

She even added a tiny, happy brown bear sticker to the back of the postcard.  Adorable. Isn’t he?

Nature in my mailbox PCs-2

Candace of Glenrosa Journeys sent a postcard boasting about her coming retirement.  Okay, not really. Maybe not.  (Not sure, as I received this news as I’m beginning a new academic year). Her postcard should have been “expected” also.  We’d committed to exchanging postcards post-LYA and we procrastinated sending.  I couldn’t decide which one to send, and Candace was lazy–her words, not mine.  😀  She shared a beautiful butterfly postcard and quote that were worth the wait:

“Like a Butterfly” by Candace

The quote:

I want to fly like a butterfly around this beautiful world, till the last frame of my life and the last click of my heart.  –Biju Karakkonam

To see more Candace’s beautiful photography which focuses on the nature of Phoenix, Arizona, you must see her blog,  Glenrosa Journeys, or Flickr album.

Lastly, I received a letter from Beckra, a friend and colleague I met through swap-bot.  This was totally unexpected, especially since she had just sent me a special package a couple of weeks before–and I hadn’t even had a chance to respond to her yet.  Way to put the pressure on, Beckra.  😉

In addition to her newsy letter, she shared her photography story (read: philosophy) and three of her photo postcards. [Click an image for a closer look]

She writes:

Photography is a different way of experiencing, and one that helps me see differently. […] Without photography I’d never spend so much time with water and light, and I’m grateful for that.

I featured Beckra’s calming photo postcards in an October 2014 post I might need to revisit in a couple of days when classes begin: Getting Through the Crazies: part i.

Thank you, ladies, for adding beauty and joy to my life! You’re on my snail mail list for this week. Hugs…