Wednesday, 25 February 2015

               Crossed Letter a la Jane Austen

I'm a confessed Janeite---otherwise known as a Jane Austen devotee. The Regency Period is such a beautiful era with empire gowns, fine furnishings and literary wonders such as Jane Austen. I've been to the town of Bath, the “in” place of the Regency A-listers, several times and it's a place filled with history, culture and atmosphere. If I could go back in time I would love to visit Bath during the Regency hayday, but since I cannot, I live vicariously through Jane Austen's novels and more specifically, her characters.
One of the challenges for  Lettermo is to write a Jane Austen Letter, which dictates you write your letter with ink and pen or a quill if you dare! I'm getting more proficient with my dipping pen and have recently written several letters in this fashion. Then I saw a swap on  Swap-Bot to write a crossed letter a la Jane Austen. A crossed letter is a frugal way of saving on postage by writing your letter and then rotating the paper 90 degrees and writing again across what you have just written. I've seen crossed letters and they look a bit confusing so I was curious how difficult it would be to actually write one and found myself joining the swap.
This past weekend I set out my pen and ink...I'm not brave enough to cut a quill...and began composing my letter. Writing the first “page” was easy enough, though when I turned my paper I have to admit I was very nervous of ruining what I'd just written and creating a mess. And for good cause as I dripped ink once I turned the paper and there was no help but to start anew. Sigh. I began again and sailed through the first page, turned my paper, held my breath and wrote my first line across the existing lines. Once I had gotten a few lines on the paper it became easier, then disaster struck as my sleeve brushed across the page smearing one entire side to oblivion which was very vexing. I had forgotten to move the ink to a more strategic position and had begun reaching across the letter to dip my pen. Sigh.
I felt sure after all the experience I was getting that my third attempt would be the charm as they say. I'd already written this letter a couple of times so I had quite a flow going after I pushed up my sleeves, repositioned my ink and forged ahead. When I finished, I thought it looked respectable, but the final test would be presenting it to my husband for approval. He is a lifetime member of the Brontë Society and was involved in original research which allowed him to see letters written in this manner. I was pleased when he told me my missive was quite authentic looking.
Reading the letter was not as daunting as I imagined. Once you fix your line of vision on the specific lines, which ever way they have been written, the writing done in the other direction seems to fade into the background amazingly.
The next challenge was to fold and seal my letter. This should have been the easy part! I folded the letter relatively easily but the wax seal was not so forgiving even though I practised beforehand. I got the wax seal affixed in the end but I concede a bit more practice is needed in that area!

It was an interesting experiment, though I don't know if I'd want to write all my letters in that fashion, although I do have an unopened pack of aerograms...hmmm

Thursday, 19 February 2015

                        New Stamp Release February 19th

Out today in a post office near you are these eye catching Inventive Stamps. I really like the colour and patterns and can't wait to use them on my outgoing envelopes. I've pre-ordered mine from the Royal Mail and I know they will probably look even better in hand than on the photos shown on the website, which is usually the case. I'm still writing mail for A month of letters, and these will compliment my efforts nicely. 

Monday, 16 February 2015

                       Balance and Harmony

My husband and I share a common interest...The Post Office.  Though our hobbies go back to the same source, they are quite different.  I love letters and stamps and go to the post office happily to post my letters, while my husband is a telephone enthusiast.  Yes, I said telephone.

My husband's telephone exchange
In England, the telephone system was part of the post office for many years. Those lovely old exchanges that went clickety-clack as they connected calls became a thing of the past when fibre optics came along and proved more efficient. Most of the old exchanges were scrapped but there are those, like my husband, whose love of old telephony have kept some of them in tact and working still.

Even though our hobbies are different, there are times when they meet in a nice way.  For Christmas, my husband presented me with a genuine post office scale. I'd been struggling for a while with a digital scale that was so temperamental I put it out of it's misery and got a more traditional scale.  Getting everything ready for the post before hand to avoid standing in line for ages every week when I go to town is a bonus, but it was not to be.  I thought I was all set to weigh my letters with confidence , but the new scale didn't balance quite right and I ended up getting the postage wrong on some of my letters. Frustration ensued, and  I resigned myself to a long wait at the post office each week.
But, on Christmas morning I opened my husband's gift to me and was thrilled with this bit of postal history.  These days the post office employs digital scales for ease and convenience so my scale was retired.  Thank goodness someone saved it from the scrap heap!  It's old-fashioned, but who cares?  It works!  I like using the little brass disks to determine the weight of my letters.  There is something calming about using a manual scale. Even better, I'll never have to worry about the batteries running low and I can see at a glance if the scale is in balance.  I couldn't be more pleased with my new toy scale.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

                               Today's the Day!

This evening The Letter Writer's Alliance is having its second Virtual letter writing social. Kathy and Donovan, the brains behind the LWA, are hosting another virtual social today with live video commencing at 3pm CST...that's 9pm GMT for those of us in the UK. Mary Robinette Kowal, author and founder of A Month of Letters will be joining them and it's looking like THE place to be this evening. As a bonus, Donovan has created some awesome stationery that will complement the
event perfectly.

I live rurally, so this is a stellar way for me to connect with other letter writers. I longingly look at all the letter writing socials and events happening but I'm so far removed I can only attend in spirit. Today I'll be able to join in, not with a small group, but with the whole world and I'm loving that.

Since I'm doing Lettermo this year, it'll be a great time to write my letters while I'm
participating in the social. So far, I've done pretty well sending out my letters and cards for Lettermo, (even though I forgot to log my letters for the first day! ugh) and I have to say, it is helping me to set time aside to write which is why I joined in the first place. I like that I have a routine now of getting my son off to school and then sitting at my desk and writing and not worrying about the laundry or if the rubbish was collected! I don't know how it happens but I get off the track sometimes and end up writing sporadically when I can find a moment, and that always leads to bedlam. My desk turns into a mountain and I get backlogged because I can't find anything and as a result no letters get written because I get overwhelmed by everything. Participating in Lettermo has helped me to order my desk and my thoughts and get myself straightened out.

I'm all set to go for this evening, how about you?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Thank You Very Much!

I'm sitting in front of the fire today, writing and keeping warm.  It's so cold outside
and it's hard to get anything done around the house when you can't feel your fingers,
so this is the best place to be just now.  I've been sick with a bad cold and now that
I'm feeling better, I want to get back into my writing and try to catch up a little. 

Besides writing, I'm awaiting the postman so I can tell him Thank you. Why?  Because
today is National Thank a Mailman Day.  No one seems to know where this unofficial
holiday originated, but who cares?  It's a day to say thank you to the person who brings you letters, postcards and packages filled with good cheer.  A lot of people take their postman/woman for granted, but not me. I usually tell him thank you at Christmas and give him a gift, but I'm sure everyone does that, at least I hope they do.  Today, I want to let him know I truly am thankful for the thoughtful way he delivers my mail.

Living rurally, a good deal of my conversation arrives via the post so I am ever so
grateful for the mail delivery service.  My mailman is a nice guy who takes care with
my mail and I appreciate that.  If something doesn't fit through the slot, he won't
just crease it and shove it home, he'll knock on the door and hand it to me.  When
packages arrive and I'm not home, he puts them in a safe spot and leaves me a note. 
That, to me, is dedication and I do appreciate it, more than he can know.  I hope that
the bright colourful mail I receive brightens his day too; something eye-catching in
amongst the junk mail and bills is hopefully a perk for him...I know it certainly is
for me. 

On a rural delivery route, the mail carrier has to drive up to the house, get out and
put the mail in the door slot, so it's a laborious thing delivering around here and
yet, he never drops his standard of exemplary service.

So on this day, Thank You Very Much Adrian!