A waterlogged letter!

After being a pen pal for about 36 years…a first. I opened my mailbox and saw a letter from a pen friend in Australia. I could tell by the “wrinkly” look of the envelope that it had gotten wet at some point in the postal journey. At first, I was not concerned as the envelope was dry and intact.

But as I opened it, it became clear that the letter had not just gotten a few raindrops on it, but had been totally soaked or submerged in water! The letter was written on a note card and stationery paper, which was wrinkly, and the ink was totally smeared/smudged and unreadable as a result. Some paper nature images enclosed in the letter were all wrinkly too. The one surviving item, without any damage, was a laminated bookmark! The lamination had made it waterproof.

Over the years I have received a rare ripped or torn letter in the mail, but never one damaged by water. How about you??

Pen/writing themed rubber stamps

I recently found a bag full of wood block rubber stamps for $4.00 at a local consignment shop. This stamp alone made it worthwhile!

The wood block had no identifying info such as a company or artist. It could be that it was self mounted onto the block.

How to “interpret” this wonderful stamp? Our words by pen or pencil and the postal service fly places? Our words can fly to the future if our letter is preserved? Etc.

This stamp looked best with pigment ink. The dye ink did not work as well.

The other stamps on this envelope are ones I already had. The ink bottle is by 100 Proof Press, and the fountain pen nib by Stampin’ Up. (I am NOT an affiliate, so if you follow a link there is no benefit for me.)

USA first-class postage to Canada

For those in the USA who have used the postal system for years, you may remember there used to be a special international first-class rate for Mexico and Canada – it was more than domestic first class but less than the international rate. I am dating myself, as this was years ago! But at some point the special rate for Canada and Mexico ceased. However, I discovered several months ago, by accident, when I was double checking the postage amount for a slightly heavy letter to Canada, that:

“International postage (for first-class postage) starts at $1.30, covering the postage costs for up to 2 ounces of mail to be delivered to any address in Canada.”
Normally the limit is 1 ounce. See the chart below.

So, take advantage of being able to stuff extra paper items in your envelope to Canada, up to 2 ounces! This may be nothing new, but I was unaware of it. Years ago I mailed to Canada quite often, having personal friends and pen pals there. But then I lost touch with these people, and only gained a new Canadian pen pal a couple years ago.

Mailboxes and mail carriers and snow

We don’t get snow like this where I live now, but we did in the northeast U.S.A. where I grew up. This meme (below) shows thoughtfulness for the mail man!

With these curbside mailboxes, the mail man drives and can put the mail in the box from his driver’s seat. Where I live now (southeast), this type of mailbox – at the curb/street – is very common, even in town, in residential neighborhoods with many houses. Where I grew up, this type of mailbox you saw mostly in rural areas. In town, the mailboxes were attached to your house – either on the front porch or your front door had a mail slot – and thus the mail man walked from house to house carrying a bag of mail.

* P.S. I suppose calling this person the “mail man” is outdated, but it is still what comes to mind. Other options would be: mail carrier, postal carrier, mail woman, mail man, etc.

When I visited Finland, I got to see a mail woman that delivered the mail via bicycle. See here.

Postal rates going up in USA, and “forever” stamps

For my readers in the USA, postal rates go up August 29th. I find it interesting to hear about the post in other nations, so readers from elsewhere may perhaps find this interesting as well?

Here in the USA, our postal service offers a nice policy for stamps called “forever” stamps. It means the stamps you purchase remain valid even if the price increases. You do not have to add extra postage to match the new rate. Years ago this was not the case. For example, before the “forever” stamp policy, if you purchased first class domestic stamps and the current postal rate was .55 cents, and the rate went up to .58 cents, you’d have to get .3 cent stamps to make up the difference. But not with the forever stamp policy!  A first class stamp remains good for mailing a first class letter, no matter what the current stamp price.

The forever policy applies to stamps for domestic first class, additional ounce, postcard, and international stamps.This is something I did not know until earlier this year! I thought forever only applied to domestic first class and international (as these stamps have the word forever on them), and I did not know it also applies to additional ounce and postcard stamps (where I did not see the word forever).

I recently stocked up on stamps due to the pending price increases. Our international rates are going up .10 cents and I especially stocked up with those.

I order stamps by mail though the USPS because my local post office has a TERRIBLE stamp selection. This is nothing new, and has gone on for years. Just recently I was at my local post office to mail a package, and thought I’d see if maybe, just maybe, they’d have a better selection of domestic stamps on hand. WORSE THAN EVER. They only had flag stamps. ONLY FLAG STAMPS!!  Sorry about all caps, but this annoys me to no end. I mean c’mon, the post office should have…stamps!  And I do not live in a rural or very small town. This is a busy suburban area. The next two closest post offices up the road in either direction several miles always have a good selection of stamps, but not mine – walking distance from my house. Even a post office sub-station I’ve been at on occasion has a better stamp selection!

Anyways, here is a chart of the rate increases.

Heritage Breed farm animal postage stamps

A comment was left yesterday that my posts were missed. (Thanks!) I’ve not had a post since March! Several times I’ve thought to myself “I should write about that on Postman’s Treasure” and then never did. Sometimes I wonder if postal related blogs go silent because, well, we prefer tangible communication – pens, paper, etc. That is partly it for me. But don’t worry, I plan to get back to posting here at least somewhat regularly.

One thing I’d meant to blog about was the farm animal (Heritage Breed) stamps that came out in May here in the US. These stamps have a connection to the county in North Carolina where my mom lives, so these stamps were in her local news.

Here is an article about it: New stamps trace lineage to Chatham’s Livestock Conservatory.

The article opens this way: “A Chatham County-based organization went to Washington last week to celebrate a rare victory. The Livestock Conservancy of Pittsboro joined with the U.S. Postal Service to mark the release of a sheet of 20 stamps showing endangered breeds of American farm animals on May 17. It was a rare win for the North Carolina organization because the Postal Service receives more than 30,000 suggestions for new stamps every year. Less than 100 typically win approval.”

Read the rest of the article for more details, but note that the Postal Service gets 30,000 suggestions a year for new stamps and less than 100 get approval. Wow!

A quick heads up…Did you know that postal rates are going up in the US at the end of August? More later.

Valentine’s Day cards…

I utilized my rubber stamps, stickers, and other paper craft supplies to make Valentine’s Day cards that I dropped off today at a local nursing home. As these COVID-19 times continue, try to think of folks that might feel particularly isolated and reach out in some way.  Here are 2 photos of the cards – about 60 of them.

Do you like the IDEA of letter writing but perhaps not actually doing so?

A fairly common complaint I observe is that someone agrees to begin a pen pal friendship, but then never actually writes! One individual sent the first letter but never gets a reply. On occasion, perhaps the receiver realized they did not “connect” with or have enough in common with the writer, but I think that is the case only occasionally. More often than not, I think the problem is…

Someone liked the IDEA of letter writing more than actually doing so.

Someone liked the IDEA of finding letters in their mailbox, but didn’t quite consider the effort or needed commitment to find such letters in the mailbox.

It takes time and effort to write a letter. You must sit down with a pen and paper, do a little thinking and contemplating, decide what to write, and then actually begin writing. It involves quieting yourself and focusing, in a world that so often has us distracted and busy. And to form a friendship by mail it takes commitment and dedication, that is, continuing to write in the future even if life circumstances change.

Related to this, is knowing your “pen pal limit” – How many pen pals can you write and be able to keep up, answering with a quality letter in a reasonable time frame? This will vary from person to person. My personal pen pal limit has typically been 15-20, but yours could be much less or more.

How much free time do you have? How much energy do you have? How much do you really like writing?

How much do you enjoy associated things like stationery, note cards, etc? Some of us just love stationery and related hobbies like paper crafts.

These are all important things to consider. Realistically, you may only want 1 or 2 pen pals, while someone else can handle 15-20.

If you are new to pen pals, start slow. Add 1 or 2 new pen pals at a time. If you are keeping up, add 1 or 2 more. Etc. Eventually you’ll realize you have reached your limit.

Writing pen pals has made a comeback in recent years, but before jumping in make sure you like more than the IDEA of it, but have considered the time and effort involved as well.

Pen pals and swapping stuff by mail

Swapping. This is a term pen pals use. Some pen pals are into “swapping” or trading things like stationery, note cards, or stickers. It can be a formal thing, an expectation that you will swap a certain amount each time. For example, it is agreed upon to exchange one note card every letter.

I’ve usually not done swapping, but that does not mean I never enclose stationery or stickers with a letter! If I enclose such, I am not expecting anything back. I dislike sending only a letter, and always look about for something to “tuck-in” along with the letter. Tuck-in ideas here: Tuck-ins…A letter is wonderful but tuck something in too!

But one reason I am not into swapping is that, well, I can be a bit of a “snob” when it comes to stickers and stationery! I admit it. haha. I like “nice” stickers and stationery. And I’ve found that I have not been very pleased when I’ve done some swapping in the past.

For example, I send quality stickers from the scrapbooking section of a craft store, and receive back round teacher stickers – ya know, the type of stickers teachers place on a paper that say “good job” or similar. Or I send a quality note card or stationery (say from Punch Studio or Hallmark or Papyrus), and receive back a cheap note card from a dollar store.

A couple times I felt like a pen pal was trying to take advantage. They observed the stationery I use to write my letters, and then mentioned wanting to swap, apparently hoping to acquire some of the same – but sending me low quality, mediocre stationery in return.

Wow – I hope I don’t sound super snobby. But with swapping, I have an expectation that what is swapped back and forth will be of a similar quality – a fair exchange.

However, as said, I do enclose things with just about every letter I send – see the “tuck-in” post I linked to above.