Tag Archives: saturday mail delivery

fueling the fire

It’s been years since I’ve been involved in an ongoing, consistent relationship using letters. This is too bad. It’s not as though detailed emails or longer phone calls with out-of-state friends or family have taken their place. No, simply put, overall communication has generally fallen off. Bugger. And it’s a bigger disappointment when you admit the value and purpose in sharing bits about ones’ lives through letters has almost disappeared. Thankfully not for all, such as with my friend Julie…

letter envelope

Julie (juliekesti.com) and Cheyenne (rudolphclaystudios.com) became instant friends 11 years ago, both spending the summer as work-study students at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee (home of the worlds largest Salt and Pepper Maker Shaker). Soon after Julie’s departure, the letter writing began and it’s never stopped.

On average a letter is sent every month, running about three pages in length and often composed over a couple of weeks. They purposely email or use the phone only when needed for business or big news. Being a teacher, Cheyenne often reuses paper and Julie tries to guess its origin. And Julie uses colorful pens, stickers and drawings in her letters and envelopes, always a treat for Cheyenne. They once made a painting through the mail, mailing pieces back and forth to each other, which was eventually used in an art show.

This is their first experience with pen paling, but it easily became a natural correspondence. Cheyenne feels through writing “Julie and I have a different kind of friendship…I feel very open to her in ways I am not with other, more local friends. I think with writing, we share a part of our self that is more private or more authentic than we could get through email or phone.”

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Julie says, “You get to be a part of moments in a faraway friend’s life that you probably wouldn’t otherwise. This happens a bit with Facebook but a letter is much more direct and personal, more like you are really present with the person – it’s magical.”  Cheyenne agrees, “A real letter is substantial and important, because it’s tangible and some other person took real time and real physical effort to make the letter.” These women are committed and consistent pen pals. I give them praise!! It might take more time, but the reward is priceless.

The people at The Little Folk also believe in the power of a Pen Pal but for young kids. They recently launched Pen Pal Collective, a traditional letter writing program for children 4-13. Once signed up, Little Folk will match your child with two writing pals as well as with a writing kit that includes paper, pencil, stamps, and more. The Brown boys will be sure to share their correspondences this spring.

In this file photo, a mailman for the U.S. Postal Service closes the door on his postal vehicle on November 15, 2012 in Miami, Florida.

In addition to these existing relations which fuel the fire, news just in from the USPS. The Postal Service plans to delay its plan to end Saturday delivery mainly because they do not have the authority to make such a decision. The question still remains where the postal service can save money. So for the time being, see if you can’t ignite a pen pal with a letter to a college buddy or sign your child up for the next round of pen pal from Little Folk.

American Apple Pie

I never thought I’d find myself daydreaming about the US Postal Service like I have this past week. It all started with a flurry of new stamps issued in January (including the increased cost) and continues with the likelihood of saying goodbye to Saturday mail delivery. But let’s start with the good news…..

Global Forever®

One no longer needs to question the cost of an international stamp whether you’re sending it to Nice or Nicaragua.  The newly introduced Global Forever Stamp can be used on a 1-ounce First-Class International letter to any country in the world for a mere $1.10

The Apple postcard stamp is one of my new favorites.  The selection includes the bright red Baldwin, the green Granny Smith, the yellow Golden Delicious, and the multi-colored Northern Spy. The stamp art is illustrated with pen, ink and watercolor, with some additional detail added on the computer.

The Emancipation Proclamation stamp commemorates the 150th Anniversary of receiving Lincoln’s signature on January 1st, 1863. The designer, Gail Anderson, used rare type she found when digging through old typeface and dingbats used in a Nashville letterpress shop, one of the oldest print houses in America; a great deal of effort placed into an important stamp.

Kaleidoscope Flowers

Flowers are one of the most popular features for stamp collectors as well as with the purchasing public. With these Kaleidoscope Flowers stamps the designer and artists have taken these classic perennials and brought in a graphic element to keep it modern.

Belgium to issue stamps that taste of chocolate

And just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Belgium Post Office plans to issue chocolate smelling and tasting stamps. The Bpost states, “We have added a chocolate taste to the glue of the stamps. You can taste [it] when you lick it. It was not easy to get the scent and flavor of the dark chocolate right. In the end, people from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland all worked on it.” Maybe our USPS can come up with a US flavored and smelling stamp…American apple pie, smores, hot dogs?  On to the bad news…

On Wednesday the US Postal Service shared its plans to end Saturday letter delivery beginning this August. The news was not a complete surprise but it still broke my heart. I got the news via text from a close friend, Angela, who is the Executive Prodcuer at our local WCCO news channel. She was curious if I would agree to an interview concerning the topic. Yikes. If it wasn’t for the possibility of promoting brown ink (apologies) I would have hesitated. I freeze at public speaking. But in the name of letter writing I agreed to the interview. And all in all it was short and sweet…

I get it. Since 2007 first-class mail volume has declined by 37% as online communication and payments have skyrocketed. Hundreds of post offices have closed, hours cut and staff reduced over the same time. By stopping Saturday delivering the USPS will save $2 billion a year from its annual loss. A good chunk of change. But where does the cutting end? In the 1950’s twice-a-day delivery was cut to once a day. In another five years will we see a weekday delivery cut, more post offices closed? The end to Saturday delivery will be harmful to small businesses, rural communities, and elderly who rely on their mail for commerce and communication.  However, in every article I’ve come across I hear most Americans favor the change.

I honestly don’t have any solutions on how to stop this downward spiral. So for now, I will continue to buy more stamps, mail more letters and support Post Offices like this one in Vermont which needs to stay active in order to stay afloat. Jane Davies, the woman who who runs the post office, is getting creative; when she receives any art postcard she will send one in return. No, Jane is not issuing the new USPS American Pie smelling stamp but she’s driven and passionate about mail. And sometimes that’s what it takes.