Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Used to be I scanned each letter I wrote. Then I took macros because there were too many letters to scan. After that I said to heck with it and just kept the letters near my desk, in cute boxes so they'd be handy if I needed to jog my brain. Well, we know that didn't last very long either, right? I have not scanned incoming or outgoing mail in a long time. It takes too much lifting, sitting, and effort. I have to pack up, move to another room, unpack, plug in and wait for the scan. That's too much like work.

I do remember to take photos ninety-nine percent of the time though. Phone cameras are a blessing. It is also much easier to take shots of stacks when two or more letters go out in one post. So, what you see here is a single photo of sixty stacks of several months worth of correspondence, and yes, there are tens of tens, times tens, of single letter photos too, waiting to be dealt with. I plan to share those before I retire OWM. I'm almost "out of ink," so that day might come sooner than planned. I'm almost stacked up, "writ out" and just plain old over and out of here.  

Have you kept a tally of the letters you've written? A log? Photos? Have you made a few good friends? One or two keepers? More? Do you archive your correspondence? I do. And I'm stacked in that area as well. There are boxes stacked high enough to touch the ceiling in my studio. No-no-no! Not from the floor up! I'll show you what I mean some day. Soon. 

Thanks for all the swell mail!

Write on. 

P.S. I forgot. Here's an interesting piece aka a topic for tomorrow: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-mirza-grotts/the-perfect-stationery-wa_b_507775.html


  1. Yeah I know what you mean! I start out great with some sort of organization but then Im unable to keep up. I was trying to write down all my incoming/outgoing...then somewhere in April I lost track. Ehhh...Apparently my system that I started when I was 10 is the only one that I can keep up with: put all my incoming in an old Saltine metal box and then after I respond, I put the letter in an old shoe box.

    1. I should try a similar system! Thanks for the tip. I tend to write when I'm in bed, on the patio . . . Okay. I tend to be like the absent minded professor. Or maybe I'm still rebelling against a strict military upbringing, but I sort of drift through the house, leaving evidence of my occupations in my wake; I used a $20 as a bookmark once. Naturally I put it away when I cleaned, and two years later we're wondering if it ended up in a box of books we donated to the library. In my defense, I was going to pay for Chinese food being delivered, but JC paid instead.

      I bought the best-seller, "The Art of Tidying Up" to help me keep my correspondence and art life in order. It won't work if I don't read it, right? I am determined to do better therefore I promise to take a photo as proof. Very soon. :)

  2. Nope. No photos, no log. A few years ago I kept a log of outgoing mail. To my dismay, most people did not respond ever. So I decided to heck with it, and now I just correspond with a few people. I save about 70% of my letters and toss the rest. Older letters from family I have saved all my life.

    1. Oh, Cynthia! I pegged you as a keeper because you've kept your beautiful family letters! I've never tossed a single pen friend letter. LOL. Not even the scented ones that make me sick. I put them in double Zip Lock Baggies. I've been shopping for a nice trunk to archive everything.

      Am I a hoarder? :( :) Seriously. How do you determine which letters to toss or keep? I need another assistant.

      Thanks for replying.

    2. Well. tossing any letter requires some consideration and several days at minimum from receipt. Thoughts on tossing.
      1. Have I responded? Read and re-read the letter enough?
      2. Envelope. Is it just ordinary? If so but maybe a great stamp, I peel of the stamp (yes, many of the new ones will peel offf...). Then I stick the stamp in a little Moleskine year diary, along with my favorite sentence from the letter... then I toss both.
      3. Does the author consistently use the same paper and an average envelope? Then I toss the envelope and stick the letter in a hanging file. (As in my most loyal penpal.)
      4. Thank you note? Usually let go of it after a few days.

      Thoughts on keeping? Great stationery (folded, matching set). Beautiful penmanship. Some interesting topic or information for future reference. Poignant letter that seems close to the writer's heart. Encouraging words? File in my "for a bleak rainy day box".

    3. Cynthia, you never disappoint! I want to print this and paste it in my journal.

      Thank you.

  3. I will be sad if and when you retire this blog. I love reading your posts...and I love getting mail from you.

    I take pictures of most of the mail I write and also of what I receive when I remember to do so. I have letters huge boxes. Yes, I save pretty much everything except for maybe some envelopes that come from swap--bot. I'm a sentimental fool.

    1. Really??? You made me tear up. Seriously. And, seriously??? I feel like a fish in a fish bowl. No, a fish out of a fish bowl is more like it. I admire everyone who has such lovely blogs about mail and mail art. I am not very good at either and I know it. That's been okay up until recently. I seldom have things in common with people I admire so much. The only time I have felt connected was when I was in art school. We all felt a little off center and right at home with each other. I feel like I've gotten know a handful of my letter-writing peers through this blog.

      I think I've found a new blogging home among fellow artists, where I don't feel so out of step. BTW, I like you even more since I read your post about your special letters. :) I wish I had the courage to do that.

      I'm sentimental too then! :) And what's a swap--bot? I switched from using the banker's boxed to pretty boxes or archival boxes instead. And yes, remembering is the key. Sometimes I'm so happy and awed by envelopes that I forget to take pictures. LOL.

      Thanks for sharing with me.

  4. Your post comes at an interesting time because I have a letter I received from you recently that I have been in a quandary about. You posed so many interesting questions that I will be writing to you about but I wonder if I should send your letter back with my reply so you'll have reference to what the heck I'm talkin' about. We'll see! I always keep all letters incoming but I do sometimes just get in a cleaning mode and will throw them all out. Letters from close family members I keep in an old cigar box. I envision my family enjoying them when I die. After my grandmother died, several months later one of my aunts returned all the letters I had written to grandma. I love that she treasured them.

    I count you as one of my most favorite pen pals. I think my husband may actually be jealous that he doesn't have pen pal! Isn't that just too funny?

    1. Oh, goodness! What did I say? I'm anxious. LOL. Sometimes I'll get a letter that makes me wonder about the penner's experience or meaning. Yes, I often write too long, and say to much, and perhaps I ask too many questions, but only because a letter is so interesting.

      I recently asked myself why I write letters. I was on the brink of simply walking away from OWM. The question prompted me to Google the question. The answers changed my heart. I'm working on a post about that very question. I wonder why most people even bother writing to me. I sought safe friendships when I began OWM. I never wanted to meet anyone because the four times I've met with IRC friends the relationships always died. I promised I'd never step outside the envelopes again. Do you think I've kept my word?

      If I could, I would pay everyone I've ever written to to burn my letters. I wish I'd kept letters from my father, but I have letters from friends and family that were written when I was in high school. My grandmother's arthritic fingers . . . I'm weeping again. :) . . .

      I hold on to letters for many reasons but the best reason is simply because someone invested their time in me; someone thought enough of me to write to me. I still feel invisible once in a great while, but repeaters are special. :)

      Aw, shucks. You are determined to make me cry! You are in my inner circle of pen friends because I feel like I've gotten to know you. Following your blog compounds that belief. You share your world through your photographs . . . I recently read a quote that claimed we read to connect with others. I think we write letters for that same reason. I should put all this in a letter, huh? :)

      I hope your handsome husband reaches out and finds at least one pen pal. I can only imagine the letters he'd write.

      Thanks for commenting.

  5. I feel such a connection to you through our letters and through our love of books and permit if you will to use a part of a commencement speech given at Washington Unniversity by the eloquent Ken Burns yeah the guy who does all the documentarys .
    Read. The book is still the greatest manmade machine of all -- not the car, not the TV, not the computer or the smartphone. I love that statement and it is so very true so please don't leave us any time soon my dear blogger comrade Limner

    1. Thank you for the connection. Add tomatoes to it! :)

      I don't get this: "The book is still the greatest manmade machine of all . . ." I seem to be the only one who doesn't. Perhaps I worked too hard today, but thanks for sharing. I read the speech, thanks to you.

  6. Fun and interesting post and comments. I started off trying to get a log of incoming and outgoing mail. I used a calendar -- but it proved to be too time consuming to keep up with and I, like you, photograph my outgoing -- usually in stacks. I don't keep everything. If I did I would need a storage unit and I am not going there. I toss mail in boxes after being answered and go back in a year and toss mail if I am not in communication with the person any longer...Then I bundle up my special pals mail and tied the bundles in ribbons -- like gifts. When tossing mail i tear off stamps and sometimes keep cool envelopes to re-purpose somehow into new mail art. I try not to waste a thing. That's my plan and I'm sticking to it. You've probably seen the photos on my blog of the boxes (and boxes) of mail and the bundles.....

    1. I seem to keep asking the same questions when I'm stuck, so I appreciate everyone's patience and kindness. I tried calendars and then a date books. It all boils down to the fact that I must do what y'all do and pare, otherwise I'm a hoarder, or worse.

      I might try your idea for the postcards and stamps. You're a genius.

      I'm embarrassed to say this but the bottom fell out of two drawers in my beautiful studio dresser. Too much paper and too many stashed letters. That was the tipping point.

      Patty taught me to let go of something before something new comes in. It worked for a while. It's like being on a diet. LOL.

      I almost love your studio. I admire it! That's better. I admire it. It seems like a lovely place to create. Thanks for the inspiration.