Summer Heat Catch-up and Thank You Letters to Firefighters

During Summer, Lettermo member activity slows a bit. We are still replying to pen pals we correspond with, but downtime is a good letter writing practice. This recharge allows for activity, life, events, happenings to transpire so that you have something great to write about or reference in your letter. Remember a fast response time, is not always necessary when you write pen pals, that you’ve bonded with in previous transmissions. It makes the long awaited reply, that much sweeter! As you get to know someone through a letter, you may wonder about how life for them has changed or altered, so writing back too quickly can mean short letters, without new topics or much to say in return. Let the sun, the outdoors, nature and family/friends recharge you!

Sun Art at Pinks Patio – Photo by Cooksterz

Of course, in today’s news climate,  a few months could mean dozens or hundreds of world events, disasters, or “extinctions” taking place, that are affecting humanity and our planet!  The Heat has really taken a toll on us Americans! I am in the deep South and  can say I am very used to  extreme heat.  A week of 110+ heat indexes in a very old house, an older Jeep with no AC, was something to bear, even for a seasoned southerner! ( My heat-bearing advice:  “Head and Feet” keep them cool! Carry water and worship the shade!)  My poor walking postal carrier deserves a big thank you and an Ice Cold Lemonade! Letters that are arriving through my mail slot, arrive pre-heated!  I saw several people go down while out in the city this last month.  Life saving First Responders, SAFD, EMS and Fire Department calls for heat related incidents were at an all time high here in South Texas.  Hydration and Preparation can save your Life!

FIREFIGHTERS, EMS, FIRST RESPONDERS: They all deserve un-ending accolades and thank yous!  They save Lives. They dont sit in the truck in the AC,  and observe and report! They put on that gear, deal with the issue, and are warriors that selflessly risk their own lives, and in some cases part of their Soul,  to save people and property. They deserve Thank you Letters!  According to this Fire Rescue Article, they really appreciate them too:
https://www.firerescue1.com/firefighter-heroes/articles/361241018-Why-firefighters-treasure-thank-you-letters/

A life was lost, although the Grace of the SAFD First Responders remains, sadly a year later, the church burned down too. – Photos by Cooksterz Littlefield

The Carr Fire, near Redding, California is a tragic and extreme example of how our Firefighters and EMS are the real heroes and leaders of our nation.  See this Twitter Hashtag for recent updates/photos/videos/maps/news:  They photos are stunning and the stories so heartwrenching! https://twitter.com/hashtag/CarrFire?src=hash

Lettermo.com A Month of Letters is asking ALL MEMBERS to THANK A FIREFIGHTER with a letter or note this August!  #letterstofirefighters #thankyouletters tofirefighters #thankyoufirstresponders
See the Forum Post  or our FB/TW/IG posts for more . Share a story about how Firefighters  in your town, state or country go above and beyond!   Send a thank you note, to your local firehouse, or to one handling the Carr Fire, or nearby Pacific NW areas affected by these devastating wildfires… Does your local firehouse need more thank you letters and notes? Tell us! Use #letterstofirefighters so we can see too!!

THANK A FIREFIGHTER #letterstofirefighters  Thank you letters, postcards, notes, or even an in-person or  monetary thank you.

Addresses: – updated as we progress

1.

CAL Fire / Sacramento Headquarters

1416 9th Street  -or- PO Box 944246

Sacramento, CA 94244-2460

 

2.

City of Redding Fire Department
P. O. Box 496071
Redding, CA 96049-6071

3. CAL Fire – fire.ca.gov and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CAL_FIRE

Other Fire Departments in cities affected by Recent Wildfires:

Firefighter Resources:  http://www.cafirefoundation.org/  calfire.ca.gov

  • USPS First Responders Stamp Release! : http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2018/pr18_ma053.htm
    US Postal Stamp Honoring First Responders

    Lets get to Making some “Firefighter/First Responder” Mail Art and most importantly, Let us Give Thanks to the best of Humanity, in Written form!  #letterstofirefighters

    Are you just starting at Lettermo.com and want to find penpals to write to? SIGN UP anytime!  Fill out your profile,  and head into the Forums INTRO section to say hello or read through Lettermo Member Intros!  Visit “Mail Call” to hear from others requesting mail and Add them as a Friend, to exchange addresses! 
    ~ Cooksterz Littlefield  

Lettermo Contest Winners

Our Lettermo March On Contest Winners

Winners were chosen from mail images and quotes, submitted by Members!  The judges voted on each entry images/quotes and a winner was determined by points! Thank you Everyone who continues to interact and share your great mail and letter images with us on lettermo.com Note to Winners , you will receive your prizes by mail, and be on the lookout for emails from Moderators, who will be packaging and sending prizes starting next week!

1st Place Winner:  Julienne P @goodjujubot   -You win a  Wax Seal Set, Pilot Metro Fountain Pen, 10 pack of Artists Postcards, An Apica Notebook, A Rhodia No18 notepad, and a Signed Book from Mary Robinette Kowal!!
2nd Place Winner: Chayah Nechama @bluesky  -You win a Pilot Pen Set, Misc.  Notepads and Stationery from Mary,  10 pack of Artists Postcards Set, and a Book of Forever Stamps!
3rd Place Random Draw: Simone P @hexentrio You win a Pilot Pen Pack,  A Rhodia No. 13 notepad and a Book of Forever Stamps!

March On

Whether you were a postal star and smashed our Month of Letters Challenge, or you felt fortunate enough to find a group of people who have a passion for paper mail, the LetterMo Postmasters would like to thank you for your participation in this year’s challenge! We especially appreciate all of the patience and support you’ve expressed for the maiden voyage of the new team. Thank you!

But wait! There’s more!

While the “mail at least one item through the post every day it runs” part of our challenge has come to an end, the second part of the challenge is still very much at hand: “answering everyone who wrote to you.”

It’s time to March On!

March On Lettermo Badge

What awaits you at the end of the March On rainbow, you might ask? Another excuse to write letters, of course!

In 2001, the USPS expanded their letterwriting week campaign to include the entire month of April. Various mail-centric blogs and entities have also taken up the call (such as Crane stationers, check back in April) as well as the folks over at Hallmark. We know that Write_On began gearing up for their April challenge in January. Watch their blog for fun mail items and connections to other folks offering content and enticements about letter writing.

Your LetterMo Postmasters aren’t going anywhere. We will continue to be active in our Facebook Communities, look after the forums, and like all your beautiful happy mail and artistic creations on Instagram, plus sharing all the fun and inspiring ideas we can find to help you keep your mailbox (and the mailboxes of others) happy.

LetterWriting Links: You’ll love these to keep March Mailboxes going!

Chronicle Books List of People to Write

Soldiers Angels thoughts on being supportive during National Card and Letter Month

A list of six ways to celebrate National Letter Writing Month from Paper Source

Valentine’s Day Sorrow

Dear Month of Letters Community,

I had thought to post something today about love and Valentine’s Day, but such a posting seems frivolous and disrespectful in light of the horrendous school shooting in Parkland, Florida.* I hope that soon we’ll learn to love each other enough to stop this violence.

Write your representatives.

Ruth

In the Face of Death

            I usually try to keep my posts fairly light, but today I want to address a fairly serious topic: how to write letters that confront loss and sorrow. Condolence letters are rough to write and often rough to read. A friend of mine who lost a parent found she couldn’t even break the seal on most of the notes she received. But sympathy card and letters often do bring real comfort to the bereaved, sometimes not right away, but months or even years later. When I was seventeen, I went to visit my grandparents in New Jersey. I arrived the day a distant member of the family had his funeral, and that night I went with my grandparents to sit shiva with the family. During the course of the evening, one of my great uncles took me aside and told me (at great length) how, when his wife had died some years back, my mother had written him a long, beautiful letter about his wife. The letter, he told me, captured Aunt Bert’s spirit and described all her wonderful qualities so that he felt his wife was always close to him. The letter meant so much to him that he had it framed and hung it on his wall where he could see it every day.*

            As with any type of writing, knowing your audience and respecting the kind of relationship you have with the recipient of your note are key. When writing to a non-intimate acquaintance

(such as a co-worker) who is grieving, it’s usually best to come up with a version of “I’m sorry for your loss.” Anything more extensive than that is likely to feel like an intrusion.

 

Date

Dear Ms. Saunders,

            I was sorry to hear that your mother passed away. I remember meeting her once when she came by to have lunch with you. She seemed like a lovely person. Allow me to offer you my

Genuine sympathy,
Bob Milne

            What one might write should also depend on what one knows of the deceased. If you knew the deceased well, a memory or story that the family might like to keep can be a great gift. 

Date

Dear Rebecca,

            It is so hard to believe that Saul is not longer with us. He had such a calm and steadying personality. Remember that time we were all at the lake and the kids found the puppy with the broken leg? Sammy was howling louder than the dog, but Saul reassured him as he splinted the pup’s leg and wrapped the dog in a blanket. The whole way to the vet’s office Saul kept both kids and canine soothed with that low voice of his. And when no one claimed the dog, Saul just brought her back without thinking twice and made her part of the family. He did that for a lot of people too, including

Your friend,
Michal

Offer to help — but only if you really can follow through and if you won’t be hurt by a refusal.

          Sensitive condolence letters are often marked by what they don’t say. If you aren’t sure, don’t write that the deceased will be missed terribly. Unless you know the religious beliefs of the bereaved very well, don’t offer comfort out of your own faith. Avoid recounting the stories of your own losses; the letter should focus on the recipient’s pain. Especially when the loss is fresh, don’t pressure the mourner to find comfort. Anyone who has been loved deserves some pain and tears. Don’t add anything chatty; the note should be about the deceased or the loss to the reader only. Death is a time to be classy and formal, to lean on ritual and formulae. There are exceptions, of course, but unless you’re sure that deviating from the verbal rituals of grieving will be welcome, dress your letter in the accepted trappings of mourning.

           In the face of a death, I think of Emily Dickinson and her poem that I’ll let close this post:

After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?

The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go – **


Ruth

Ruth Feiertag is the owner of PenKnife Writing and Editorial Services (http://www.penknife-editing.net), the Senior Editor for Regal House Publishing (https://regalhousepublishing.com), and an independent scholar who writes about Medieval and Early Modern English Literature.      

   

(This one’s for my dad, d. 2007, but keenly missed and never forgotten.)                

————————————————

* When I got home, I told my mother this story and she burst out laughing. It turned out that when her mother died, my great-uncle had written her a letter that read,

Dear Sarah,
            I heard about your mother. Well, that’s life!

 

** https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47651/after-great-pain-a-formal-feeling-comes-372

 

The Gift of Gratitude: Getting the Hang of Thank-You Notes

(A post in honor of Mary Robinette Kowal and the Month of Letters)

Dear Friends,

Here we are, about to launch another Month of Letters. For the first time, we are setting sail with a new captain (or two), and we owe a shipload of gratitude to Cooksterz and Ronda for taking the helm. But I want to dedicate this post to Mary Robinette Kowal, the one who built the boat and took us on as crew. It’s been a marvelous voyage so far and we’ll keep cruising through these Februaries, thanks to Mary, who is still providing us all with her support and the means to keep the site and community viable and vibrant.

~~~

My Great-Aunt Lillie was a champion of the thank-you note. She expected us to have one in the mail the moment her letter or parcel was relinquished to her local post office. And once she had received our cards, she wrote us thank-you notes for the thank-you notes we had sent to her. There are still a number of Aunt Lillies in this world, but for many of us, the thought of writing a thank-you note causes anxiety and cold sweats. It needn’t. The art of writing thank-you notes is an easy skill to acquire, and I am here to share the secret formula.

I think most of us want our letters of appreciation to sound gracious and heartfelt, but let’s face it — most thank-you notes are stilted and sound insincere.

Dear Tia Esperanza,

            Thank you for the nice socks.

Love,
Jose

We can do better, and without tearing out our hair. We don’t even have to use the words “thank you” — some people even maintain that one ought not employ them. The basic thank-you note has six parts that will result in a decent missive of gratitude that does not sound grasping, but does come off as thoughtful.

  • The date
  • The greeting
  • An initial expression of gratitude that does NOT include the words “thank you”
  • A comment on the object or act for which one must express thanks
  • A final expression of gratitude
  • An appropriate closing

That said, I should mention that my mother once received a one-word thank-you from a somewhat pretentious friend of the family that read merely, “Magnifiqué!” But generally, a thank-you message should go something like this:

 

Date

Dear Aunt Lillie,

I was so pleased to receive the letter you sent in response to my thank-you note. I am always amazed at how much family history you are able to pack into only five or six pages. The story about my grandfather was very amusing, and I am so happy that you shared it with me. I send this with

Love,
Ruth*

A slightly more formal example might read like this:

Stardate

Dear Mr. Kenobi,

Running into you in the desert the other day was a real delight. We should do it again soon. And I certainly was not expecting you to entrust my father’s old light saber to me. I can’t imagine a more meaningful gift. I’ve put it on the coffee table; it’s a real conversation starter.

R2 and C3PO send their regards and ask whether you will come for tea next Tuesday? Allow me to add my voice to theirs, and to say, once again, how pleased I am to have the saber. I am

Deeply grateful,
Luke Skywalker

One to a good friend can be more casual:

Sometime in the Recent Past

Dear Bruce,

I just had to dash off this note to tell you how much I love the shorts. Where did you find something so trendy with that artful distressed look? With the right suspenders, I’ll be able to wear them with everything.

I’m looking forward to seeing you at dinner this weekend. Tony says to ask if the Hulk will play on our team for the volleyball game.

Thanks again for the shorts. They’re just smashing.

Love,
Pepper

Remember that even if your note is short and follows a form, it can still be sincere. The point is to let the person who gave you the lurid socks or who wrote the glowing letter of recommendation for you know that you received the gift or are aware of the effort and appreciate the thought and time that was expended on your behalf. (It doesn’t matter whether you really appreciate the socks or not; while you are writing the note, you do.)

A final admonition regarding thank-you notes: unless you have a true disability that precludes holding a pen (and some of us do), thank-you notes should be written by hand, on paper, and sent through the mail. All the e-mails in the world will not take the place of a holograph missive composed in the most legible script the writer can muster. Handwriting still conveys a personal communication that nothing else can match.

So let’s practice. Take a moment and think of

  • Two people who have a
  • Relationship, and an
  • Object given by one to the other

For example: two guys, cousins, and an invitation:

Prehistory

Dear Noah,

Dude! You always have the best ideas for our family re-unions. A cruise sounds awesome, but the whole animal theme doesn’t work for me — my allergies to fur, dander, and hay are way too gnarly. But you have a great time and tell me about it when you get back. But I really appreciate the invite — I can always count on you to keep me afloat.

Don’t worry about me. I heard there are some killer waves coming our way, so I’ll be on my board, thinking of you stuck on that boat with the fam and critters. But, Dude, I am still, like,

Totally grateful,
Lamech III

(There’s a discussion about gratitude and thank-you letters here. Do share any good notes you compose, if you are comfortable doing so.)

Here’s another way to get some practice. On page fifty of Write Back Soon!** there’s an article entitled “Three Hundred Sixty-Five Thank Yous.” It tells about John Kralik who, at a low point in his life, spent a year writing a thank-you note every day and managed to turn his life around. I’m not suggesting that if we all write a note of gratitude every day that all our problems will miraculously melt away. But doing so will probably make us much better thank-you letter writers.

So here’s what I hope will be the first of many expressions of gratitude that I make during this Month of Letters, and my last offering in this post:

29 January 2018

Dear Mary,

I never foresaw how much the Month of Letters would come to mean to me. I’m not very good at keeping up with answering letters from Letter Monthers the rest of the year, but every February I feel connected to the world in a way that sustains me through the other eleven months. The Month of Letters community is an incredible gift that you gave us all, and I am proud to help continue what you started.

I also want to let you know that your courage and honesty about your depression have made it easier for me to be upfront about mine. That you were able to ask us to help you now when you need to take care of yourself is also admirably brave and I honor you for it. You are an inspiration in so many ways, and for that I am

Profoundly grateful,
Ruth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* I should be clear that Aunt Lillie was one of my favourite relatives and I genuinely treasure the several letters I have from from her containing some very interesting perspectives on family history.

** Karen Benke, Write Back Soon! (Boston: Roost Books, 2015).

Ruth Feiertag is the owner of PenKnife Writing and Editorial Services (http://www.penknife-editing.net), the Senior Editor for Regal House Publishing (https://regalhousepublishing.com), and an independent scholar who writes about Medieval and Early Modern English Literature.

USA Philatelic Catalog, Stamp Increases, Mail Art

Print catalogs and catalog companies have not endured the modern age of Eco, Techno or electronic media and the “have it now” generation.

The official source for stamp enthusiasts

The USA Philatelic is one that I enjoy! The  Fall 2017 Volume featured Sharks on the cover, great themes, insightful stories and articles regarding the beautiful stamp issues and products! (See collage above)  #usaphilatelic  You can “have it now” with a request at USPS here: (just wait for it the mail! )  USA Philatelic Catalog

Request: https://store.usps.com/store/product/stamp-collectors/usa-philatelic-P_012007

Although not a collector, I like to order the commemorative and seasonal stamps. In re-imagining the Philatelic cover, I converted it to an artvelope, or shall we say a pair of “Sharkvelopes”.  #artvelope  Two cut from the Shark centerfold! 

Hopefully, a few of my lettermo penpals who weren’t traumatized by the 1975 Jaws film will enjoy one.  Mail art is another aspect of letter writing, that is fun, creative, crafty, thrifty and a fulfilling exercise! 🙂 The artvelope also opens a new topic with the person reading your letter.  Something to write back about, and perhaps include silly 1970’s movie references!   #mailart #envelopes #lettermo #stamps

Stamp Increase!!  Thanks to member, Heather S,  for reminding us that ordering now will save you a bit. She ordered hers early!  Rates Increase 1/21/2018.

Helpful information on the increase here:  http://blog.stamps.com/2017/10/26/usps-announces-2018-postage-rate-increase/

USPS Price Change Documents: https://pe.usps.com/PriceChange/Index

Enjoy the upcoming  2018 Month of Letter Challenge! The Forums are now open for topic posting, introductions, and more  Lettermo 2018 information, including the Participant Badges, Calendar, Sheet of Stamps and more!

“Sharkvelopes are predatory artvelopes. Stamp with Caution:.”   ~Cooksterz 

 

The torch passes to a new team! LetterMo is alive! ALIVE!

My dears,

I am so relieved and grateful. Ronda Stall and Cooksterz have stepped up to the letterbox and are making sure that LetterMo continues on through snow, rain, heat and gloom of night.

They are working on cleaning the forums of spam and getting everything ready for this February. I’ll be lurking in the background but going forward, you have new couriers. Please help them with, and thank them for, the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Fondly yours,

Mary Robinette Kowal

Would you like to run the Month of Letters?

My dears,

This is a difficult post to write, but the time has come for me to give up the Month of Letters. It began as a way for me to disconnect from the internet and slow down. I have loved all of the people that I got to meet through it.

But over the years, the effort involved in maintaining and running the site has grown to the point that I can’t sustain it. In full and painful honesty, we’re at the point that February triggers my depression symptoms as I realize that I’m letting people down.

We’re slammed with spammers and I don’t have the ability to stop them. There are things that the site needs that I can’t provide.

So what I’d like to do, rather than just shutting it down, is to hand the Month of Letters over to another caretaker. I issued the initial challenge, yes, but it is bigger than me.

Do you want to run Month of Letters?

If you do, I’ll still pay for hosting. I can cheer from backstage. But I’m at a point where I need to let go of trying to manage the site. In 2018, I’m trying to be better about understanding my limits. Please understand and accept my apologies.

Sincerely yours,

Mary Robinette Kowal

Edited to add: There’s a new team! LetterMo is alive!

#LetterMo Stamps of Approval

The Month of Letters community shared many really wonderful stamps on the #lettermo tag over on Instagram, just as we requested. Here are our favorites! You can find more shared on our Instagram feed.

In February, mail one item through the post every day it runs. #lettermo Sign up to find Lettermo Penpals!

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