They say it’s better to give then receive but…

I can tell you from experience receiving can be pretty delightful too, especially when that receiving refers to letters delivered to your mailbox, letters  addressed “just to you”.  Why there’s practically a radiance to them!

Big ones, small ones, in all colors of the rainbow, with artful postage stamps decorating their envelopes.  Ah, commemorative postage stamps.  They are like miniature paintings,  lovely works of art.  Notice the postage stamps in the picture above.  Do you recognize all of them?  Some come from Scotland, The Netherlands and Germany.  I’m happy to have  plenty of pen friends in the United States, but I also enjoy corresponding with people from all around the world.  These people come to visit me  by way of their letters.

I love company, don’t you?  There’s nothing quite like it, but when letter friends come a-calling  you don’t have to clean the house, dress up, or prepare any refreshments unless you’d like to enjoy those refreshments yourself. Of course you probably won’t be getting any of this company, these letters, unless  you’re writing letters.  And why wouldn’t you want to be writing letters?  It’s such lovely fun to sit quietly reflecting,  visiting with a friend via pen and paper. The Art of Letter Writing provides joy in both the giving and the receiving.

Every morning I have a few letters and postcards ready for my postman. He picks them up and off they go – north, south, east and west. Messages can travel by way of the internet, but there’s something very special about a handmade letter.  I write one every morning with my first cup of coffee and then I write another later in the day as a reward for a constructive morning.


And when my friendly post man comes around I’m rewarded for my efforts for he brings me more letters, replies to those letters I’ve written.   What fun!


Today was a slow mail day – only three letters and one post card, but every day can’t be a terrific mail day.  Luckily I have a backlog of letters to answer from good mail days in the past.  I’d love to share a few of the highlights from those letters with you on the off chance that you may not have any of your own letters to enjoy, but if you don’t all you have to do is join The Letter-Exchange, a most wonderful letter writer’s organization.  I’ve been a member of this group for years.  If you join you’ll have scores of your own wonderful pen friends in no time.  But till then let me tell you a little about some of my pen friends and about the goodies they share with me in their letters.

There’s Joanna who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Joanna is always sending me lovely artful postcards, many with a Scottish subject.  I share her delightful day trips to places like Dundee.   Joanna says Dundee has to be one of the coldest places in Scotland which she says is really something for I guess Scotland is a colder country then I ever imagined.  Joanna tells me Dundee is set on a hillside on an estuary of the river Tay which flows out to the North Sea. It encounters a particular east coast climactic phenomenon – a sea fog that is blown inland.  It’s fun to imagine I’m there with her.  Joanna tells me Dundee is not a wealthy place and has few restaurants, but surprisingly it does have a Mexican restaurant.  She enjoyed a dinner there for $12 and to give you an idea of how this price seemed low to her she said her friend enjoyed a Mexican dinner in London at about the same time, but that dinner cost $80.

Some day I just may travel to Scotland and meet Joanna in person because my husband is an avid golfer and Scotland is one place he’d really like to play some golf. Thanks to Joanna I now know  we must take along our woolen underwear if we make the trip.  She’s full of information about where to stay and what to do in her country.  She’s my personal Scottish travel agent. I bet she has a great recipe for  tea time shortbread.

Then there’s Cindy…   Cindy lives in Milford, Connecticut.  I love New England having lived in Boston. Massachusetts myself.  Cindy shares pictures of her Connecticut neighborhood and the flowers she grows in her garden.  She’s one of my ” girl friends”.  We talk about motherhood, gardening, cooking  and daily life things.  Cindy is an artist and it’s fun to share ideas for our artful projects.  Girls need lots of girl friends.  And since my town of Hudson is in a part of Ohio known as The Land of the Western Reserve (It was Connecticut’s western land holdings back in the late 17th and early 18th century) well, I feel a kinship with Connecticut people like Cindy.


But I also enjoy West coast people, people like Almita.  Almita lives in Menifee, California.  She and her husband are avid bird lovers.  They love nothing more than traveling around in their RV and bird watching. Thanks to Almita I’m learning a lot about birds.  Did you recognize the birds  in the pictures from her last letter?  Both birds are Black-crowned Herons, but the lower picture features a mature Heron whereas the upper shot reveals a juvenile Heron. Thanks to Almita if I should run across any Black-crowned Herons in the future I’ll  now be able to name them.   Letter friends are full of knowledge and enthusiasm for all sorts of things and in sharing they not only double their joy, but they also educate and inspire us.

If you have a passion for literature, particularly the literature of Mark Twain then you would love Greg as your pen friend. This is because Greg lives in Hannibal, Missouri, the same town where Samuel Langhorne Clemens (who became Mark Twain the author) lived from the ripe old age of 4.  Greg is a Mark Twain enthusiast.  All of his letters bear the Mark Twain commemorative stamp and he even sent me many of these postage stamps so I could use them on my letters to him.  Though he writes about all sorts of other interesting subjects too (especially astronomy) you can count on him for information about Mark Twain.  All you have to do is ask him.

I did,  and before I could say Tom Sawyer there was a large white envelope in my mailbox.   It was filled with post cards and  brochures about Mark Twain and his town.  He also sent me a very nice booklet entitled, A River, a Town and a Boy. After I finish digesting all this information Mark Twain will surely become another of my “dead friends”, one of the interesting people from the past who entertains and inspires me. And to think Mark Twain and I might never have had the opportunity to connect if it weren’t for Greg.

We may only have one life to lead, but if that life includes a lot of interesting pen friends then that one life becomes so much more. Pen friends turn the whole world into a friendly neighborhood.   I can’t imagine life without them.  Another time I’ll share more  of my pen friends with you and if you join The Letter Exchange you just might develop a friendship  with some of these people yourself.


But before I leave you and because Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner I must share a recipe that my good friend Mary sent to me.  Mary lives in Forestville, California.  She’s an old college friend and a retired Colonel in The United States Air Force.  Though Mary lived in various parts of the United States as well as Germany and England, places far from me, we kept in touch through letters and these days we’re still writing letters to each other.

Often we share recipes in our letters because Mary and I both enjoy cooking.  Well, today one of my three letters was from Mary and a little yellow post- it-note in that letter said, “My friends made this and it was excellent, very moist.  I plan to make it soon.”  And I, Carol Ann,  plan to make it soon too… it being a Turkey while you sleep.  My turkey is defrosting in the fridge as I write.  Maybe now, thanks to the wonderful Art of Letter Writing, you’ll be making this recipe in the next few days too.  If you do you can thank my pen friend Mary for sharing.

Turkey While You Sleep

Ingredients:  1 uncooked turkey, 1 tsp. salt, 2 stalks of celery with leaves, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted, 2 cups boiling water.

Process:  Sprinkle salt inside turkey cavity and insert celery stalks.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place turkey on rack in roasting pan and rub with melted butter.  Pour boiling water around turkey, cover pan tightly, and cook for 2 hours for 14 pounds or less, 2 and 1/2 half hours for more than 14 pounds.  After cooking time, turn off heat, but DO NOT OPEN OVEN DOOR.  Leave turkey in closed over overnight (8 hours).  Turkey will be ready to slice and refrigerate the next morning, with plenty of drippings for gravy.

So ’til we meet again I leave you saying

 “Happy Letter Writing” and “Happy Thanksgiving” too.

Letters help you get away without having to get away


Look who’s coming up my driveway.  It’s one of my favorite visitors.


It’s my mail man.

Though this fellow is very nice it’s not his good looks and winning personality that make my heart sing.  It’s the letters he brings to me, letters from all over the world.  These letters offer friendship and not only that, they have the power to take me away to far off places without having to leave the comfort of my home.  Now that’s pretty special.


Today’s letters carried me off to some pretty interesting places in the United States.  Kim wisked me off to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, then Amelia took me along on her trip to South Carolina. From there Nancy showed me a thing or two in Florida and because I was so comfy in my chair I could handle even more touring so  Greg carried me off to Missouri and I ended up in California with Carolyn.  It was the magic and art of letter writing that managed to share so much with me on a lazy Summer afternoon.


Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden

If you have some time come along and see  some of the neat places that my pen friends shared. Sharing doubled their joy and it doubles mine too.  That’s why I’m sharing all this with you!

We’ll start our sightseeing at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden.  This is a complex of buildings and grounds set in Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, U.S.A.  It is a historic landmark listed in the National Register of Historic places.

This complex was founded in 1893 by steel and real-estate magnate Henry Phipps and was given to the city as a gift.  Its purpose is to educate and entertain the people of Pittsburgh.  It contains formal gardens and various species of exotic plants.  The greenhouse, Victorian in style, was designed by Lord and Burnham.  It contains interesting glass and metal work and is one of the greatest buildings in the world because it is the “greenest”… or so I’m told by Kim.

Once my pen friends introduce me to a place I can google it and learn so much more about it if it appeals to me, but without the introduction I would never even know the place existed.  Are you into Botanical Gardens?  If you live near Pittsburgh you ought to check it out.


The French Huguenot Church of Charleston, South Carolina

Have you ever been to Charleston?  It’s a charming place I’m always ready to return to and Amelia has made that possible for me and you today by sharing this picture with us.  Do you know this church is the third church to be constructed on this site? The first was built in 1687 and this third and last structure was built in 1845.  It was the first Gothic Revival building constructed in Charleston.  Today it is the only independent Huguenot Church in America.

Don’t you love the horse drawn buggy?  I’m a Romantic and anything old world appeals to me. Hearing all about Amelia’s vacation to South Carolina brought back lots of good memories.  If you’ve never been there you owe it to yourself to take a trip and visit this old and charming city.


Bok Tower Gardens, Florida, U.S.A.

We’re zooming around from one state to another and I’m not even a little tired.   How ’bout you? Now we’re off to Florida and the Bok Tower Gardens.  My friend Nancy lives in the state of Washington, she’s an old high school friend, but she visits her daughter in Florida often and tours neat places while there. Nancy tells me this place boasts being one of the greatest works of famed landscape architect Frederick  Law Olmsted Jr.  It was designed to be a contemplative and informal woodland setting with breathtaking views of the Singing Tower.

What’s a singing tower?  I wondered too.  It’s a 205-foot Neo-gothic and Art Deco  Carillon.  Concerts from this 60 bell carillon fill the gardens with beautiful music at 1 and 3 pm daily.  Music and nature.  What a glorious combination.  I wish I could hear those bells now.


Hannibal, Misouri

Zip. Zip. Zip.  Now we’re in Hannibal. Missouri. Letters do help one get around without having to do any actual moving around yourself. My pen friend Greg lives in Hannibal and he loves this town. It is the birthplace of Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens.)  Twain was born back in 1835 and he spent his boyhood in the house pictured above.  From  experiences in his early years here he created the tales told in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, two of his best loved novels.


Greg’s last letter to me

Greg writes very interesting letters and he loves the Mark Twain postage stamp. He uses it on most of his letters.  How generous it was of him to include a few of these stamps for me to use in my letters as well.  I may not have a chance to visit Hannibal any time soon, but I just might have to read some stories by Mark Twain.  Having pen friends in various towns and cities helps me care about these places and care about others, not just about me.

What a good mail day it was for me today.  How about for you?  How many letters did you find in your mail box?  If there weren’t enough perhaps you haven’t been writing enough letters yourself. But there’s one more letter I received today and one more place a pen friend is sharing with me and I’ll share with you.



Have you been to Hayfork, California lately, or ever?  I’ve been to Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, but I’ve never been to Hayfork.  Maybe that’s because it’s wilderness country and I’m not much of a wilderness kind of girl.  My pen friend Carolynn is.  She’s retired army and she lives here and loves it.  Carolynn says she’s had enough people in her life and now she enjoys nature and animals for company.  She pointed out Chanchelulla Peak in the background of this picture.  Its elevation is 6401 feet.   It is the highest point in the Chanchelulla wilderness and is located 50 miles west of Red Bluff, California (wherever that is).

There are no trails, no lakes, but lots of wild life here. The Chanchelulla Peak ranks 102nd on the list of California prominent Peaks.  California has lots of Peaks.  Carolynn enjoys this rugged area and she enjoys roughing it.  She has no electricity.  Can you imagine?  And we may think we’re roughing it some days.  How different life can be for all of us, but as we share with each other we get to experience a little bit more than the one life we lead.


My outgoing letter to Kathy

Well, it sure has been fun traveling around the country powered by the sharing of my delightful letter friends.   Now it’s time for me to do a little sharing of my own.  I’ll be writing to my long time letter friend Kathy in York, Pennsylvania.  It was fun to share with you too.  Maybe you’ve been to some of the places I visited today.  You can tell me about your fun there if you leave a comment.  Why?  You know.  Sharing doubles the joy.


Carol Ann signing off

So till be meet again one way or the other I’ll be signing off, wishing you lots of happy times writing and receiving letters.  Love and best wishes to you!