Letters help you get away without having to get away

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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California

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.

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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.

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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!

Country Inn “Travel” Day

 

 

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German Village, Columbus Ohio
Even though I can have wonderful Country Inn Day experiences staying in or close to my Inn of imagination,  my 1853 home, it is sometimes great fun to go beyond my little town of Hudson, Ohio and do a little (or a lot) of exploration.  And so I took a trip to German Village which is two hours south of Hudson.

German Village is a historic neighborhood (and I love historic neighborhoods) just south of downtown Columbus, Ohio’s state capital.  It was settled in the early – to – mid 19th century by a large number of German immigrants who at one time comprised as much as one third of the city’s entire population.

German Village is listed on The National Register of Historic Places and was made a “Preserve America Community” by the White House.  It is one of the premier historic restorations in the world.

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The Book Loft

My travel day in German Village began at a wonderful book shop called The Book Loft. This shop boasts of having 32 rooms of books for sale and each room has a different style of music playing to entertain shoppers as well as to tempt them to buy the musical cds. It would be easy for a book lover like me to spend the entire day in such a place

 

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but after a considerable amount of time browsing I tore myself away, strolling out along the shops beautifully flower-filled alley way, but not empty handed.

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I came away with two books, this one by Martha Stewart because living a good  and long life is important to me as it is to Martha.  Her book has a little bit of everything in it – healthy eating, healthy fitness, healthy brain, healthy home… you get the idea.  I was tempted by books in all these categories, but Martha had a little of everything rolled up into one.

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My other purchase was this lovely and artful book entitled “Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life”.  It contains information about the plants and places that inspired Beatrix to write her wonderful storybooks.  Beatrix is one of my “dead friends” so I’m always looking for books like this one.   Beatrix can’t share her life with me in person these days since she moved far off to heaven, but the right books allow her to share with me in a different, but still very delightful way.

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But time flew in the book shop and I was getting hungry so my next stop was a wonderful restaurant called Lindy’s.

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Lindy’s is a convivial American bistro featuring a copper-topped bar and a surf ‘n’ turf menu.

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 I love the elegance of white tablecloths so Lindy’s dining room was the place for me.  I was seated at this table near a window.  Yes!

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Here with Beatrix at my side (via her book) I ordered a delicious lunch, glass of wine and then relaxed with coffee from this nifty french press stainless steel pot.

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Looking out the window at the gas lamps and the historic buildings as I enjoyed my lunch made it easy to imagine I was back in time with Beatrix.  I was very happy with this restaurant but I had no idea what lay just outside. something that could’ve made my lunch experience even better on this glorious weather day.  Can you guess what it is?

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Lindy’s has an outdoor patio nestled in trees and decorated with lots and lots of beautiful flowers.  Who knew?

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Well, now I know and so do you so next time either of us venture to Lindy’s on a beautiful day we’ll know to take a table out of doors amidst  the fresh air and flowers where the birdies can serenade us.

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But it was now time to hit the brick-lined streets and sidewalks, time to take a stroll around the village.  There were houses and their gardens to investigate.  Let me share a little of what I saw along the way.

So many charming houses with postage stamp size gardens that were small but absolutely lovely.  There were  patios and porches, all  carefully designed and well appointed.  It was delightful and inspiring to stroll along and view such beauty, but after a while it was also time to sit down and rest.  Luckily there was a park just ahead.

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What a welcome sight for my tired feet.

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I found a park bench, invited Beatrix to join me once again by pulling out my new book,  and there in solitude, but with society all around me, I enjoyed the beauty of nature on this Country Inn “Travel” Day.

See?

Ah nature!

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous 

Aristotle

I enjoyed everything about this Country Inn Day, but as usual it went by far too quickly. The bookstore, the charming restaurant, strolling past pretty gardens, houses and then this peaceful  park.  What a pleasant day!

My Country Inn Days are always wonderful escapes.  Be they days where I play the part of Innkeeper and Inn Chef hosting afternoon teas and dinner parties or days where I delight as Inn Guest jaunting around in search of culture, adventurous expeditions or spiritual retreats… whatever the itinerary I know a Country Inn Day will be a break from routine and the break will do me a world of good.  Some Country Inn Days are spent entirely at the Inn with no unusual activities at all, just lots and lots of simple pleasures –  leisurely walks , bubble baths, letter writing, piano playing, reading, art play and always time spent in imagination.

After all, we must be the artists of our lives creating days which make our hearts sing. Lord Chesterfield (another of my “dead friends”) an 18th century British statesman and man of letters once said, “Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it.”  Sometimes that’s hard to do on a daily basis, but it’s easy to do on a Country Inn Day so I’m sure to schedule one each and every week.  Country Inn Days step in and I step out of all regular routines.

I’m so happy you could join me for at least a little of my Country Inn “Travel” Day  Why?  You know.

Sharing Doubles the Joy.

Hope to see you next time wherever Country Inn Days will take us.

Letters will tickle you intellectually

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Does this place look familiar to you?  Can you guess where it might be? Well, let me tell you.  It’s Delft, a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, in the Netherlands.  I have not had the pleasure of visiting Delft myself, not yet anyway, but my dear letter friend, James, spent some time there a while back and because he’s a kind and generous soul he shared his trip with me via letter and he bought me a little present from this charming, old city too.

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James bought me this beautiful tea cup.  He stopped at a porcelain factory and chose this lovely hand-cast, hand-painted creation just for me.  Can you imagine my delight when this beautiful object appeared in my mailbox along with the following letter?

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James wrote:

Dear Carol Ann,

Since you are so fond of the tea ceremony, and you are so kind as to include me on occasion, I thought that this would be the perfect gift for you.  It is a hand-cast, hand-painted tea cup from a porcelain factory in Delft that has been making them since the 1600’s.  I bought it for you at the factory when I was in Holland.

I would be quite honored if you might use it to make yourself a cup of your favorite tea when you read my letters once in a while.  Or perhaps you can put out an extra place setting with it when you invite your friends over for tea.  Nobody has to know why it’s there, and that way I can be there with you in spirit.

I am so honored to be included in the special brilliant world of your imagination.  God bless you, Carol Ann.

Love,  James

How would you feel if you received such a letter and gift?  Well, I felt wonderful!  Finding any personal letter in our mailbox is a delight and finding excellent letters from special friends is even better, but discovering exquisite presents sent in friendship along with very kinds words… well, this is pure bliss.

I hope you have wonderful pen friends like James.  Such pen friends inspire us to live richly.  They validate our worth by their caring.  They inspire us with the sharing of their interesting activities and appreciations.  They entertain us with their stories and they teach us things too, all sorts of things.

Oh yes, James is always teaching me things.  He taught me to appreciate a simple pencil like I never appreciated it before. Do you think of the pencil as your friend?  I bet you never gave pencils much thought.  I sure didn’t, that is until I got this letter from James in which he extolled its merits.   Let me share what he had to say.

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“Carol Ann, do you think it is a breach of etiquette to write a letter in pencil?  I really LIKE to write in pencil.  Let me tell you what I have learned about the pencil!  For one,  pencil writing lasts much, much longer than pen writing.  It’s true!  I learned that when I started working in the archives department in the museum. (That’s the Norman Rockwell museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.)  Archivists mark everything in pencil because it is more permanent.  Also,  it is more likely that I will draw you something because I don’t have to put down a pen and pick up a pencil.  So how’s that for a deal?  If you will tolerate my pencil writing, I will draw you more pictures in my letters.  How’s that?”

Letter writers often teach us things because they are interesting people interested in lots and lots of things. Most letter writers are avid readers. When moved by the ideas encountered in a book most letter writers are eager to share those ideas.  Why?  You know.  Sharing doubles their joy.  I often write letters in my home library.  There I can easily jump up, find the book I’m currently reading, and share a passage with my letter friend.  I can enjoy this sharing any time of day or night too, and this is a real perk, for after all, you can’t always get a friend on the phone when you want to share or pop over to their house whenever the sharing mood strikes, but with letter writing sharing is possible 24/7.

And if you happen to write to artists like my friend James you’ll delight in receiving illustrated letters.

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Just imagine finding drawings like this one scattered through the letters you receive.  How would such drawings make you feel?  They make me feel treasured.  Now don’t get the wrong idea.  My letters to and from James contain no hanky-panky.  James knows I’m a married woman not interested in anything beyond pure and honorable friendship.  I often read his letters to my husband who approves of this and all my letter relationships.  The above illustration simply captures the joy a letter writer experiences when an interesting person and skilled writer becomes a new pen friend.

Naturally the best correspondents are kind and good people who have something to share and are skilled in expressing themselves in words and/or pictures, but remember, practice makes improvement.  If however you feel you really have nothing to share, it could be time to explore some new interests.

Letter friends will provide us with lots of ideas that spark imagination and increase our zest for life as they share their adventures and favorite things with us.

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Here’s another fun example of sharing from James.  When he was planning a trip to Belgium, all excited to be leading  a tour of the Flemish and Dutch masters, he inspired me to visit my local museum so I too could view art from this period and place.  That’s how the power of suggestion works in letters.

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And what’s this?  It’s a Belgium waffle.  James said it was the only item he could think of to appropriately decorate the stationery for his letter about his upcoming trip, and yes, seeing his drawing prompted me to dig out my waffle maker and experiment with some recipes.

Letters will be as intellectual as you and your letter friends are.  They will help you think about new and different things.  Letters will help you grow. They will provide a vehicle for reflection and sharing.  Many of my elderly correspondents are thrilled to relive their life stories in letters, sharing those stories with new and  interested ears, but no matter how old or young we are, sharing in letters doubles our joy, and, if we can’t get out often, or even if we can, letters offer great opportunities for stimulating interaction.

Though the physical and social aspects of letter writing are delightful, the intellectual aspect of letter writing is equally delightful and equally responsible for making this art form a Complete Treat!  You may already know this, but if not, you’ll see as you write more letters and collect more interesting pen friends, friends like James.

So what are you waiting for?  Write a letter!

The Post card as Art

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Today’s post card to Kathi
My “dead friend” Charlotte Bronte has been known to say “… short notes give one the feeling of a very small piece of a very good thing to eat” and I agree.  Though both Charlotte and I love nice long letters we both appreciate short notes too.  In fact, Charlotte added “… I am very glad to get notes; so don’t think, when you are pinched for time … that it is useless to write a few lines; be assured, a few lines are very acceptable…”

And so every day I send off one short note in the form of a post card in addition to one of my nice long letters. I like to use post cards for these short notes because  a post card requires less postage than a short letter and because a post card most always contains a picture, and you know what they say about a picture.  It’s worth a thousand words.

So today I send a post card off to my cousin Kathi.  I recently had a tea and baked a pretty impressive apple pie if I do say so myself, so after all the work of baking and hosting the tea, it seemed only right to take a picture in order to memorialize the event and share my joy over and over again.  Most of the picture post cards I create come out of scenes from my daily life.  And it’s funny, knowing I can take these pictures and use them for my correspondence gives me good reason to go the extra mile in making things as nice as possible.

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The Red Lion Inn
I first started sending post cards years ago when I discovered The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.  I loved that inn then, and still do.  The Red Lion Inn was the inspiration for my invention – Country Inn Days.  You may have read about these days in a former post.  The Red Lion Inn sold many lovely post cards and I bought them all.  I kept some, but being a letter writer, I sent others away to friends as a way to share my joy.  I also took lots of my own pictures.  Here you see one of them.  I think the porch at The Red Lion Inn is its best feature.  I loved it so much that I patterned the porch at my own 1853 house after it.

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Tea served at my own private Inn, The Jeremiah Brown House
Now, on a Country Inn Day, when I’m  playing the part of innkeeper and hosting a tea, I take pictures along the way in order to create and send off my very own Country Inn Day postcards from my very own Country Inn, The Jeremiah Brown House.  Sharing doubles my joy. It’s great fun!

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Another tea at the Jeremiah Brown House
Creating a lovely table setting is a lot like painting a lovely picture.  It’s fun, but it’s also work.  Some art we create lasts and lasts; a painting, a song, but not a table setting.  After a tea or meal the setting’s moment of glory is over.  All that work could be forgotten, just a vague memory unless we photograph the scene.  If we do take a picture we’ll have the image forever, available for post cards and photo notes.

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Besides taking pictures in our own private worlds it’s also wonderful to buy picture post cards on our travel adventures and our visits to  favorite places near and far. Sharing these sites with friends and family allows us to share our joy.  I used to live in Boston and I absolutely LOVE The Boston Public Garden. Whenever I return to Boston, as I do quite frequently, I spend hours in this magical place.  In fact the arboretum-like feeling of this garden is what inspired me to choose The Jeremiah Brown House for home.

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Entrance to The Jeremiah Brown House (1853)

And because I love my trees so very much, naturally they often become the subjects of my Country Inn Day postcards.

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Carol Ann in Chicago

Sometimes we might find ourselves in a place that is really special but has no card shop handy, and even if there is a card shop, there’s no picture for sale showing exactly what we’re seeing and enjoying. This happens off in the country all the time, but it happened to me in downtown Chicago recently.   My husband and I were walking along and I was awestruck by the impressive skyscrapers all around me.  What to do?  Take a picture of course!  Making our own picture post cards is fun and very personal for though the store-bought cards may at times  be of better quality, they don’t ever include our very own smiling faces.

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The Crop Bistro, Cleveland, Ohio

I’ll often send my pen friends pictures of lovely places in and around Cleveland.  There are  lots of such lovely places, but Cleveland, like many industrial cities, gets only bad press.  I want people to know there is a great deal of beauty here too.  We have wonderful restaurants,  like the beautiful Crop Bistro housed in a gorgeous historic building.  We also have fabulous parks, charming small-town neighborhoods, terrific culture, (I used to work for The Cleveland Orchestra) and we’re working on the sports.

I think I should be hired as a public relations representative for Cleveland because I’m forever bragging about the city, broadcasting its finer points, and sending snazzy picture post cards to my pen friends all around the world.

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Two dashing fellows

Of course it’s lots of fun to photograph people too.  Here you see my husband Bill (in the white) and our friend Steve who was visiting from Florida.  Steve, our friend Susan, (Susan’s not pictured here, sorry Susan) Bill and I, all went to Blossom, the Summer Home of The Cleveland Orchestra where we attended a concert.  Camera in hand (as usual) I got lots of good pictures.  Won’t Steve be surprised to go out to his mail box one day and find this picture post card waiting for him?

Any time  I get together with friends and family is a great time to take pictures for my post cards.  Who wouldn’t enjoy finding not only a postcard addressed “just to them”, but a picture post card featuring their very own picture?  Add a sweet caption and it’s a great way to let your friends know you’re thinking of them. There’s enough room for a short note on the back of the card too.

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My son Patrick “supported” in friendship by his UCLA chums
Any photo post card you send to your friends should put a smile on their face, but some pictures are more fun than others.  The more fun your subjects are having,  the more fun they’ll have revisiting that fun.  Life is short.  Enjoy yourself and share that joy.

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Even though it’s delightful and artful work creating your own picture post cards you don’t have to make all of them yourself.   You’ll find all sorts of post cards for sale.  My letter friend Joy has gone into the post card business and soon you’ll be able to buy her designs.  She makes lovely, artful cards.  I’ll keep you posted on how to purchase them.

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Daniel Gerber’s (American, 1880-1958)
The River’s Bridge

Art museums are  wonderful places to find post cards of great and famous art works. You can use these cards when writing short notes to your friends, start a collection of beautiful post cards for your personal pleasure – looking through them whenever you need  a spot of beauty, or you might  buy a dozen art post cards, tie them in a ribbon, and use them as hostess gifts for the next dinner party you attend.  These cards might be serious …

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Day ‘N Night by JETGLASS
Your Best Water Heater Buy

or they might be a little silly.  At one time this picture was meant to be a serious advertisement, but now it’s just a fun post card.

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And this card is fun too, especially if you’re female.  Note the caption:

“I made some Niman Ranch lamb tenderloin with garlic, black pepper, and Indonesian soy sauce for dinner.  I hope that sounds ok.”

I love this fella’s expression, don’t you?

So many humorous forwards fly around on the internet these days, but snail mail can spread a lot of fun as well.

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Inspiration

And snail mail can also spread a lot of beauty around this weary world.  My friend Evelyna loves afternoon tea as I do and she finds beautiful tea images on post cards to share with me.  These pictures inspire my own tea gatherings.

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Evelyna’s tiny script helps her say a lot on a small post card

So though a post card will never take the place of a long, juicy letter it does have its value.   Just as we appreciate  hor dourves as the small but delicious little treats they are, so too should we appreciate the post card as the lovely little art form it is.

Don’t take my word for it.  Buy or make some post cards, send them out and see what happens.  If you’re not yet a letter writer but you’d like to be, post cards are a nice way to get started.  If you are a letter writer, why not add some post cards to your correspondence ritual?  You just may find

When you give (post cards) good things (more post cards) come back to you

Nature, Travel, Tea and Letters

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It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a perfect day for letter writing, but then every day is a perfect day for letter writing.  The sun is shining.  The birds are chirping.  There’s no humidity.  It’s a lovely temperature, about 75 degrees, and all is calm and right in my world.  I hope that’s the case for you too. Today I decided to write my morning letter to Janet.  Janet is a real nature lover as I am, maybe as you are too.  I wanted to tell her all about the alpaca farm I discovered when meeting the owners at Hudson’s farm market last week.  I also wanted to send her this bookmark picturing one of the very cute alpacas. I knew she would be interested because Janet loves animals.  Are you an animal lover too?

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 I’ve mentioned Janet to you before.  She lives in a  beautiful country setting in the state of Virginia.  Her house is right next door to her sister and brother-in-law’s farm.  Janet is always taking me on excursions through that farm via her letters.  It’s so fun! Thanks to Janet I can share in her early morning walks without even leaving my comfy sofa.  Ah, the magic of letter writing!  Are you in the mood for a little creative visualization?  Well, I’ll share a bit of one of Janet’s letters with you.  I’m sure she wouldn’t mind because Janet is wonderful about sharing her joy.

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She writes,

“Just returned from my early morning walk to the fish pond, strolling by the sheep and lambs in the pasture…

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the donkeys keep watch…

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a few birds too”.

Janet continues, “When I reached the pond a dozen geese were on the water honking.  I like to watch them as they glide along and every now and then they’ll flap their wings, take off, fly to the shore or another spot on the pond, splashing when they land, and then glide along once more.”

Can’t you just picture those geese as Janet describes them?  I sure can, and I have to smile with delight as I share their joy.

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 Janet is always sending me pictures in her letters.  I love them.  Like I always say – one picture is worth a thousand words.  Janet makes post cards too like this one of Mr. Rooster.  She cleverly snapped his picture and added what she knew he was thinking.  If you hang around animals enough you do get to know what they’re thinking.  On the back of the postcard Janet wrote,

“Every morning roosters crow somewhere in our community.  My sister now has three roosters and this is one of the newest.  He’s very strong and feisty, but a smaller one we call ‘Roger’ has been there the longest and none of the new roosters mess with him.  He’ll squawk and chase the other two.  Roger let’s the others know he’s the King rooster…”

Don’t you know people like Roger?  I sure do.

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I enjoy travel, but I also enjoy my creative visualization with the help of letter friends.  Having pen friends from all over the world gives us an “up close and personal” look at places and things near and far.  As you can see from the postmark above I have a pen friend in The Netherlands.  She’s a veterinarian.  I bet she would love Janet’s letters about nature and animals as I do.

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Vronica takes me along to places she visits like Stadtkyll and she adds her  personal commentary. Because I have wonderful  pen friends like Vronica and Janet I see more of this beautiful world than I would see otherwise.  And I care about, and become interested in, places I would never even know existed if not for letters.  After all, you can’t love what you don’t know.  Do you see how letters can expand our world?  If a person can’t get out and about for any reason, but even if they can,  they really ought to take up letter writing.

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How ’bout a little sightseeing in England?  No problem, just find yourself an English correspondent like my pen friend Tracy.  Tracy lives in Jacob’s Well, Guildford Surrey.

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I’m getting to know Guildford pretty well because  of all the literature Tracy sends me on the place.  I love it!

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We tour neighborhood houses together via her local newspaper

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and we also visit historic properties in and around Guildford like this museum, The City Museum.  Its galleries tell the story of the city from its origin as a prehistoric trading center and Roman regional capital, through to modern times with reconstructed 19th and 20th century shops.

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But Tracy also sends me gifts, large and small.  She is a very giving  and  generous person who loves to share.  My kind of girl.  Tracy knows how sharing doubles the joy.  She sent me these neat London coasters

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and this pretty tablecloth for my tea parties.  Tracy, being English, thoroughly approves of all my tea parties.

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She also sends me recipes for tea bakery.  Of course she included a conversion table so I could understand the recipe measurements.

What can I say?  We have our private world, our world of family and local friends, our loved ones who move far away, but then there’s this entirely different world, our world of

Letter Friends

Can you see how they expand one’s life experience?

I sure hope you have a few dozen of your own letter friends, but until you get them, I’ll be happy to continue sharing mine with you.  Why?  You know.

Sharing Doubles the Joy!

Do you need to get away?

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Up, up and away in friendly skies
 Though there’s no place like home, a change of scenery now and then can be very good for us.  Whether we travel across town or across the world, seeing  new sights and new people can and should enrich us in some way – give us new ideas and  inspire us.  And so I leave my home in the Cleveland area of Ohio to visit California and my son who is graduating with a Masters from UCLA. My husband Bill and son Rory are traveling with me.  Maybe you’d like to come along too.

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The shores of Lake Erie

There’s the city of Cleveland in the distance.  Do you see it?  The tall buildings look so small.   It doesn’t take long to be up in the clouds.

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Whenever I fly I get the feeling I could be leaving the earth forever, that I could be on my way to heaven never to return to earth again.  This feeling helps me realize I better make the most of the life I have and accomplish all those things I want to do, use any gifts I’ve been given, live as richly as possible while I can.  For this reason air travel does a lot for me even before it delivers me to a new and interesting destination.

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Over Los Angeles, California

After writing a letter or two, reading a magazine, flipping through a book and consuming a few drinks, I look out the window of the plane and see lots and lots of tiny little houses all in neat rows. We must be over L.A. and  soon to be on the ground. The miracle of air travel.  I bet most people take it for granted.  Not me.

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LAX

We’ve arrived safe and sound at the Los Angeles International Airport.  With structures like this it looks like we could have landed somewhere on another planet, but no, we’re really just in California.  My whole little family will soon be together again and that doesn’t happen often enough.  How ’bout for you?

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Now to wait for our ride, for our Patrick, who will pick us up and wisk us away into the city.

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 My husband Bill and son Rory wait along with me.  We see  cars, cars and more cars, (that’s L.A. for you) but Patrick eventually arrives and we drive into Westwood, home of UCLA,  for a bite to eat.  No food on the plane like in the old days.  Our tummies are demanding attention.

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We’ll give them that attention at a very neat pizza shop called 800 Degrees.  It operates  in an assembly line manner.  As we walk down the line we order our pizza and its topping, our salad, our drink, and by the time we pay for our order it’s ready and we’re off to a table.  Interesting approach.

Travel is tiring,  so after our meal and some good conversation a cozy bed is the place to be, but by morning we’re all rested and ready to explore.  Are you ready too?  Our first destination is to be an interesting historic house, the Gamble House, in Pasadena.

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 This house was designed by architects Greene and Greene for David B. Gamble of the Proctor and Gamble company.  The Gambles lived in Cincinnati but summered in Pasadena until 1908 when they decided to have this house designed and built for their year round living, and an amazing house it is.

The house and most of its furniture was custom-made.  There is great attention to detail. Anyone (like me) interested in and appreciative of house and garden would enjoy touring this place.  Does that include you?

IMG_3707[1]The spacious outdoor sitting areas

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The water garden,

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the Tiffany work in the front door and throughout the house,

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 the brick work in the driveway,  so much is  custom work and quite impressive.  I’d love to show you  inside details of the house, but pictures were not allowed indoors.  You’ll have to buy a ticket and come here in person.  My boys and I bought our tickets

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and waited patiently for the grand  tour. Patience is and was a virtue, but seeing every nook and cranny of this house is worth the wait. We all left most impressed. Seeing this house inspired me to take my house to the next step once home.  The Gambles clearly felt home should be a place of escape, a place reflecting one’s taste, a place capable of  refreshing the spirit as well as the body and  I so agree.  Do you?

But speaking of  the “body”, we’re  all hungry again.   Before any more exploration it’s time for more food.   Did you ever give thought to how often we humans need to refuel these bodies of ours?  The time and money we spend doing this… but it’s delicious fun, isn’t it?

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So come along,  join us as we look for a charming restaurant.  We’re off to  old town Pasadena.  I do like the historic parts of any town

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and here we stumble upon a nice establishment with white tablecloths and outdoor seating.  I love restaurants with white table cloths, so this place spoke to me.   Do you like it?

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 Here we sit and enjoy great Italian food, a little wine and the  lovely California weather.  It’s relaxing.  Are you relaxed?  I’m told L.A. weather is pretty much the same every day, so much so that people who live here hardly notice the continuous sunshine and warm breezes.  They take it for granted.  In Cleveland it’s a little different.  We have great weather, but not all the time.  People in Cleveland say “if you don’t like the weather just wait a minute for it will change”.

From lunch we’re headed to The Huntington Library, Museum and Botanical Garden in San Marino, but that’s another post.  I hope you will join me for that excursion.  Why?  You know.  Sharing doubles the joy.

If I took you to all the places we visited at one time you would become as exhausted as I was by the end of my time in California.  I’ll be kind and break things up for you.  You can now take a nap, write a letter or enjoy a walk.  Variety is the spice of life.  Maybe you even have the energy to go off on an excursion of your own.  If that happens tell me about it and you know why you should.

Sharing doubles the joy!

It really does.