Postcards for Me and One for You Too!

I have postcards everywhere. On my desk. In my notebooks. On my walls. In my crafting spaces. On my bookshelves. In albums. Even on my nightstand. We won’t talk about the very large box and shelves filled with hundreds (yes, hundreds) of blank postcards waiting to be sent.  I’m presently looking at the mini stack of postcards I received in March, particularly the selected-based-on-my-interests postcards I found in my mailbox last week.

In honor of my love for history…

Scituate Light (Cedar Point), Scituate, MA. A historic light of the War of 1812. The lighthouse is located at the entrance to the harbor and offers a beautiful view of the coast and harbor. From Marissa477 on swap-bot.

And my love for books…

“A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” –Carl Sagan. From ShyAnn64 on swap-bot.

And bookish art…

“The Reader,” by W.L. Ramsey from developpeople on swap-bot.

And photography…

George Eastman House, Rochester, New York

And literature…

William Butler Yeats from MJBCoffee on swap-bot

And my favorite place in the world, home…

New Orleans!

New Orleans! from Lazycrochet, who just moved to New Iberia, Louisiana 7 months ago.

And random, “just because” postcards…

Pretty Thank You Note (c) ME, Teachers Pay Teachers. This is the front of the postcard sent by developpeople.

And while I try to figure out what to do with my ever-growing postcard collection, it’s time I send a certain set of postcards out in the mail.

Way back in October 2015, I won a swap-bot giveaway.  Here’s the generous collection of swag put together by one of swap-bot’s founders, Rachel Johnson.

Swap-bot 10th Anniverary Giveaway.

Swap-bot 10th Anniverary Giveaway.

"Swap-bot Swag"

“Swap-bot Swag”

Pencils. Postcards. Stickers. Buttons. Magnets. Enough to make one swoon.

I could share this cute Ernie (the Envie) goodness with other swap-bot members, but I decided to use it to lure…ehem…encourage others, to join the snail mail revolution via swap-bot.

I “discovered” swap-bot almost six years ago when I mistakenly clicked a link that popped up on a website I was visiting.  I hesitated before joining, but I was intrigued by the possibility of regular “real” mail in my mailbox! I clearly remember my first swap–an electronic playlist–and my first Artist Trading Card (ATC) swap.  I signed up when I didn’t even know anything about ATCs.  Pretty soon, I was involved in one creative swap after another, and I was completely hooked and addicted to snail mail.

Maybe, you’ll get hooked on snail mail too. If you comment below with your contact information or email address, I will send you a postcard, written on and stamped. OR–you can contact me at iamnnyla at gmail dot com.  I’ll send postcards until the swap-bot postcards are gone.

Don’t you want a little happy in your mailbox?

“I know how the flowers felt…”

“After the Pushing and the Pelting” (Tulip with Texture)

Today has been one of those days. April has been one of those months.  “April is the cruelest month…” Yada, yada, Eliot…

The Robert Frost poem above so adequately speaks my mood these days.  April for me is usually a one-thing-after-another, stressful, demanding kind of month, relentless in its pushing and pelting.  It is sometimes easier to “lay lodged–though not dead” than it is to keep things in perspective and remember that this is just one “moment” that will eventually pass.

Though it is tempting to just “lay lodged” in this state of mind, I choose to rise and meet the challenges while focusing my gaze elsewhere.

I’d captured the red tulip and several others after the poor flowers had been pushed by the wind and “pelted,” no constantly pummeled, by rain for several days.  I was happy to see them still standing, though a bit bowed.  When I shot this photo, the message was powerful, empowering, and affirming.  It wasn’t just a thing of beauty, but a symbol of perseverance and will, its beauty magnified in its reflection of the Divine.

In fact, I used it a few days later to share a bit of inspiration with family, friends, and colleagues, because such (im)perfect beauty only intensified my longing for Perfection.

“The Beauty of Holiness” (Tulip Original)

It is a little curious that this one flower–one image–captures both feelings so effectively.

“Fall” in Love: The Poetry of Autumn

Emily Dickinson

“Autumn Poets Sing,” Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Fall 2012

I’m pretty sure my next two or three blog posts will focus on autumn.  I can’t help it.  I’m obsessed with the beauty of the season.  This obsession is not peculiar to me alone, of course.  A simple Google search for autumn poems yields pages and pages of links of fall-themed classic and contemporary poetry.  And social network feeds proudly showcase an abundance of autumn photos from around the world.

My own obsession led me to host a “‘Fall’ in Love” swap in “A Thousand Words,” a new photography group on swap-bot.   The swap called for sharing autumn photos and a complementary autumn poem.  Swappers had the choice of sending poem and photo separately or poem and photo integrated. Ladybegood sent this serene autumn scene crafted as a notecard for my use:

"The Woods in Autumn" by Linda, known as "Ladybegood" on swap-bot

“The Woods in Autumn” by Linda, known as “Ladybegood” on swap-bot

And the perfect poem, handwritten on card stock: Autumn Scenes-1

AUTUMN WOODS
by James S. Tippett

I like the woods
In autumn
When dry leaves hide the ground,
When the trees are bare
And the wind sweeps by
With a lonesome rushing sound.

I can rustle the leaves
In autumn
And I can make a bed
In the thick dry leaves
That have fallen
From the bare trees
Overhead.

If you have children, this poem is perfect for getting them to understand imagery.

By the way, Ladybegood included a note telling me a little bit about the photo, but it’s missing in desk clutter (see previous post).

In a different swap, “I Like Light (& Color)” for the Color and Light Photo Swappers Group, swap-bot, Midteacher sent me two autumn photos:

"Vibrant Maple," by Diane, known as "midteacher" on swap-bot

“Vibrant Maple,” by Diane, known as “Midteacher” on swap-bot

Midteacher writes that she passed this tree several times on the way home from work before she made herself stop to take the shot one day. I witness a similar brilliance from my office window every day.  The tree beckoned me till one day I was compelled to step onto the balcony to snap a shot.

“Brilliant Hello,” by Me, Fall 2014

This autumn beauty greets residents and guests at one of the women’s residential halls. My office is quite a distance from the tree, so I plan to take a walk to capture a bit more of the interesting details.  I hope there are still leaves on it by the time the temperatures are mild enough for me to take a campus walk. :-/

Like Ladybegood, Midteacher also sent a photo notecard:

Autumn Scene by Diane, "Midteacher" on swap-bot

Autumn Scene by Diane, “Midteacher” on swap-bot

She was so drawn to this breath-taking scene that after they drove passed it, she had her husband go back so she could snap a shot. Midteacher and I are in three photo groups together and I enjoy having her as a swap partner. Her packages are always well-crafted.  In fact, I have a couple more sets of her photos to share with my blog audience.  Until then, you can check out her work on an earlier post OR check out her blog, A Focused Journey.

For the “‘Fall’ in Love” swap, I sent my partner, Patty aka Cakers, an envelope full of “red leaves” and a Paul Laurence Dunbar poem that so clearly illustrates my giddiness about autumn that I had to send it to her [click image for a closer look]. fall poem 2014 3 Patty loved her envelope full of autumn. In return, with her permission, of course, I “swiped” a photo from her Facebook wall–of leaves she collected during an afternoon walk.

"Patty's Fallen Leaves" by Patty aka Cakers

“All the Colors of Fall” by Patty aka Cakers

Enjoy!

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!

 

Poetry on Postcards (or, Happy Warmer Days!)

I’m convinced most of the USA has been dreaming of this day–the first day of spring. Many of us have endured a brutal winter, so March 20 means the end of icy and snowy days (is near).

I’m working on a “Poetry on Postcards” swap and decided that I would introduce my partner to a poet she hasn’t read before–Tameka Cage Conley. I am proud to say I know this poet. She completed her undergraduate degree in English at the institution at which I grew up as a professor, scholar, leader, administrator.

Here is one of the postcards I designed for the swap:

"December Rose" and Excerpt from "The Cell Is the Song," by Tameka Cage Conley

“December Rose” and Excerpt from “The Cell Is the Song,” by Tameka Cage Conley

Conley is an extraordinary literary artist (poet, playwright, novelist) on the rise.  You can read the full poem and one other poem, “If Sula Had a Daughter Raised by Nel,” on the Driftless Review site.  Prepare for an experience with words, sound, texture, feeling.

Ironically, the photo was shot on a rainy December day in New Orleans, just outside my parents’ front door.  Is it springy enough to wish you a “Happy Spring?”