Friday, February 24, 2017

Tools of the Trade

Correspondents are a lot like traders. We trade letters, postcards, and mail art for pleasure and gain. We'll send a letter to get a letter--a  better one, or at least a good one in return. It's akin to quid pro quo inked. Sometimes we write because of a need to connect with someone . . . almost anyone, in the beginning. We cast our epistolary net into the great Sea of Strangers, hoping for a decent catch. We cast until our bobber bobs. We grin. 

Once in a while we wonder why we ever chose to write to a stranger in the first place when pen friendships stall or fail; then  something comes in the mail and we're preening over our catch of the day. If it's good we keep it; if not, we cast it back, and chum one more time. Eventually, there's that one-in-million-and-three chance that we will eventually meet our goodliest-friend-on-paper-confident, and true blue bestie, and we're locked in Letter Heaven for life. Have you noticed how many books and magazine articles are being written about pen friends who remain so for decades--separated only by death? Several have even wed after their spouses have passed on to the great Dead Letter Box in the sky. Handwritten letters are in vogue again. Inked relationships have become more than ships that pass in the night across a blue black inky sea. Imagine all that ink that's used. Wow. Sail on!

Fran and I had a lovely talk about tools of the trade just last night. She is of the mind that the mighty pencil is forever neglected and underused for correspondence for no good reason whatsoever, despite my evidence against the mighty No. 2s of the world. They smudge to easily. Writing becomes illegible in no time at all. And, penciled letters are easily altered, shades of too many gothic novels? Okay, no one wrote in pencil then, right? 

Friend Fran asked me, "Why desert the friend that taught you how to write? Wasn't your first letter done in pencil?" She is often described as being as thin as a pencil so . . .  Fran might be biased. She might easily say of me as well, "So are you! Every so often, at least." Yes, I write a letter in pencil for old times' sake maybe twice a year. 

Had the jumbo and an eraser never wed, I might never have learned cursive on paper. Such erasing! I was good at writing cursive in the sand though. My aunts taught me how to draw and write in the sand, then wipe away all evidence with a single swipe of a barefoot. We learned our multiplication tables that way too. No wonder we were so smart. Too bad grammar and punctuation didn't come as handily. In my defense . . . Well, that's a whole other post. Besides, Fran likes me for liking pencils, and lets me slide on those scores.

Here's a cool tool that's also cute. Did you think pencil at first glance? So did I, in the store, and bought two anyway. It seems more suited to being sharpened than being tossed once the ink is gone. Such a lovely little bird, carved my some dedicated artisan. I hope to keep it forever. 

This little birdie pen was tucked away in a storage box for too long. Happily, the ink still flows, the balance is good, not top-heavy at all, but how can I use it, in case I use it up? Silly, I know.

Fran said Hester & Cook told her about these. So I tried them out. I ordered on a Friday; they arrived on the Monday. Amazon Prime? You listenin'? Lovely packaging. Not much impresses me more than the guts inside the box that holds the product. Attention to detail makes up for a list of sins. It shows you want me to be happy to get my stuff all safe and sound. And you hope I'll recycle! Yepsy doody, you do!

And I like it when I learn something. "Live and learn," I like to do and say. It's not a good day unless I learn something. For instance:  I learned what a bridge pencil is. It's not a pencil company; it is an actual pencil used for keeping bridge scores. I never played bridge. Don't want to learn either. I do have six new pencils, and need to step away for awhile to learn what each is meant to do for me. Stay tuned. 

P.S.  Another letter left home to become an exchange . . . No. A trade. It's being traded. 


  1. I like your friend Fran, she is right, pencils are lovely to write with. I use them often for my notes and journals. A nice No. 2 can write thin with a new point and when the point wears down I love the softness it lends to my words. I don't know why I never write my letters in pencil, it never occurred to me I suppose, but that is a lame excuse. Pencils write in all directions and don't run out of ink, it's the perfect writing companion really.

    1. Aw, thank you. Fran pops up like a bad cold: Once in a long while. She leaves a trail of pencil shavings in her wake, but she sharpens all my pencils before she sneaks away again. She's good company and always has the best stories to tell, but she talks too fast for me to take notes. She left her glasses last time she dropped by. I wear them when I miss her almost too much, although they blur things beyond recognition. I think I'd forget her if I didn't have them though. Fran visits less and less frequently these last ten years. She used to visit more often. Seems she'd come to see me every time I wrote with my favorite pencil. She gave it to me when Erin was learning to play the piano. I'll show you soon.

      I wish we'd all write one letter in pencil. What would the post office collective think? I recently read that hard lead pencils do not smudge easily. I read that on an artist's blog! A calligrapher's blog. Wow. Live and learn.

      Yes! You know pencils too, don't you? I'll have to send you a beauty! Soon, okay?

      "Pencils write in all directions and don't run out of ink, it's the perfect writing companion really." I like that. I will write it in my journal. In pencil. Thank you.

  2. What lovely lil didies you find including but not limited to that bird what a grand lil thing . I would love it too also the pencils , oh the pencils . Bridge pencils huh ? never heard of such a thing and my granny played bridge with the girls . Girls , hell they were over 80 all of them and not one of them ever said a swear word btwn em . I can still remember Saturdays on the back porch better known as perm Saturday with peanuts in pepsi cola bottles and the smell of perm solution . Yep good days those were and I miss em ,all of those ladies are long gone now , but does not make me miss them any less .

    1. I wish you could visit me in my studio so you could see! I found another bee ring, only this one has both "diamond" eyes. LOL. Pier1 is where I go to play at least twice a year. :)

      Yes, bridge pencils. I'll show you soon. They're the Dickens to sharpen, and they're hard to hold on to for proper writing. Google bridge pencils. I think Agatha Christie taught me about them when I was a girl. I thought they'd be short.

      Peanuts in Pepsi? It was always Coka-Cola and peanuts in our neck of the world, and not even peanuts in RCs. LOL. Your life sounds like a Southern novel. You really should write it out. In long hand. I'd buy one of the first editions, but only if you autographed it.

  3. I don't know if I even own a pencil. Oh, the feel of it on paper!!! Thank you for writing this. I've been doing a LOT of thinking lately. It's a good thing people write their ideas because it (to me) is what makes the world so interesting. I'm afraid I've been a not-so-good penpal this winter season. I hope you'll not give up on me. Sunshine is arriving daily now.

    1. Really, Susan??? Everyone has at least one pencil. Check your junk drawer, girl. Pencils never fail. Well, only if they're mechanical. You know that ink fades, right? I have proof.

      Not much beats the feel of a pencil on paper. A carpenter's pencil is unlike anything else you've done on paper before. I shunned them in art school, but only because I'd never used one before. I was so intimidated back then.

      I like your LOT of thinking. It's easier to jot thoughts on paper than it is to "jot" them in Evernote or the Reminder on my phone. I might not always remember to take my phone with me, but I usually have paper and a pencil stub in my bag. The best stub is an IKEA.

      I discovered an old envelope in an older book over a decade ago. My aunt jotted notes on nutrition for a Home Ec class on the electric bill envelope at least a decade earlier, tucked it inside, and forgot. She wrote in pencil. Thanks for jogging the memory loose.

      Enjoy the sun.

  4. The name Hester seems to be popping up in a few places these days, Hester Young, an author and the other Hester, me ...lovely package

    1. There's also Hester, the synth in "Humans." Now I want to know how she came by the name.

      "Esther and Hester are anagrams of each other; they contain the same letters."

      Yes, the package is lovely. :)