Pencils and Postcards

Postcard with pencil

This weekend, our ornate downtown theatre (circa 1928) held an Antiquefest. What a great setting for vendors to set up their booths stuffed with antiques. Fred and I volunteered at the event so I made the rounds of the various rooms several times and did some browsing while directing people to the bathrooms and coffee. I was on the lookout for pens but only saw a few that were in exceptionally sad shape. No luck there.

But amongst the furniture, furs, jewelry, linens, and books, I spied a box of carefully categorized vintage postcards and started leafing through them. I skipped to the “New York” section, thinking that there might be some familiar attractions. It didn’t take long before I selected the card shown above. $1.00. Sold.

Made in Germany

I should note that I’m not a collector of postcards, but this one tugged at me. It’s from a time when postcards were little works of art, not kitschy souvenirs. This one was made in Germany, then sold here in New York, out in the Finger Lakes region, a prime location for vacation and relaxation.

Onondaga

On the front, the writer has scribbled, in pencil, “This is the boat we did not take.” I hear frustration in that single line. This vacation, it seems, has hit a snag.

Penciled message

“We cannot go across the lake. Boats have not been running for some time. We are at NY Central station Watkins waiting for a train to Geneva. Have walked about forty-eleven miles.” T. (or F?)

More frustration. The need for Plan B. We’ve all had vacations like this.

“Have walked about forty-eleven miles.” What an interesting phrase. A quick Google search turned up a number of references all explaining that this means “innumerable” or “a large amount.” Why have we stopped saying this?!

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Addressed to Miss Hatty Harding of Waverly, NY, this penciled postcard was written and  posted in September 1910. This postcard—my postcard—is 106 years old, and still perfectly legible. No fading, no smearing, no discoloration.

That’s impressive for forty-eleven years.

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For a modern take on the same subject, check out The Purl Bug’s postcard/pencil experiment HERE.

I recently picked up this giant box of postcards. Once I start sending them out, I’m going to write exclusively in pencil. Will my messages survive until Antiquefest 2122? Could be.

 

 

 

 

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A Practice: My Hobonichi Techo

When I started learning how to ride my scooter, I quickly learned a valuable lesson. Look where you want to go. This sounds so obvious, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. If you saw me riding in those first few days, you’d know it didn’t come to me naturally. I wanted to turn into the right hand lane, but my eyes would lock onto the cars I was trying to avoid in the left lane and my scooter would head right towards them. Eek!

Hobonichi Techo

Life, it turns out, is a lot like my scooter lesson. If you focus on the negative, you’ll find the negative. The opposite is also true, look for the positive and you’ll find the positive.

I started using my first Hobonichi Techo at the end of December and bonded with it right away. But I wasn’t entirely sure how I wanted to use it. I knew I’d use it to keep track of appointments, but what would I do with the rest of the page- that gorgeous Tomoe River paper page?

Keeping track of the weather

I quickly decided to use the monthly index pages to jot down some notes about the day’s weather. My grandmother used to routinely record the weather on a calendar that hung by her back porch door, so maybe this urge is genetic.

I also decided to use the “knife and fork”prompt on each daily page to record what we ate for dinner. Yes, ham again!

Tracking dinner

But how was I going to use the rest of the daily pages?

Initially I started doing a kind of activity log- we went here, we did this- but I was only a few days in before I started boring myself. Do I really need a record of the errands I’ve run? My daily Field Notes to-do lists fill this niche pretty nicely, so rehashing the day-to-day stuff in my Hobonichi seemed redundant.

The answer to this datebook dilemma was handed to me by a friend. “Why don’t we,” she said, “record three good things for each day? Three things we’re grateful for.” We’d been talking about journaling and how we both suffer from “new journal paralysis” when this idea popped up. “Yes!” I said, and a new practice was born.

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On some days, I may jot down a quote that hits home, or a verse or note from a sermon, but I always record my three things. In a world that’s gone haywire, with so much in our lives that’s hard, closing out the day by writing down those small special moments keeps my focus where it should be- on all that I’m grateful for, on the positive.

Hobonichi Techo

Keep your eyes focused on where you want to go and you’ll get there. It just takes a little daily practice.

 

To Buy Or Not To Buy: Edison Collier in Antique Marble

Edison Collier in Antique Marble

I suspect you’re familiar with this internal (and ETERNAL) battle. See pretty pen. Want pretty pen.

Problem is, you only have two hands (and really, only one that can write anything), and way more pens than hands. Way more. Like, you’re on your way to becoming one of those people with goat paths that lead from one cluttered room to another. The pens, I’ve noticed, tend to pile up.

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But, GAH, you want this pen. So the angel and devil both start whispering in opposite ears, each trying to outmaneuver the other.

“But it’s so pretty!”

“You have enough pens!”

“It will make my life complete!”

“Um, no.”

“But everybody’s getting one!”

“And if everybody jumped off a bridge, would you do that?!” [Funny how your brain digs up these little beauties from your childhood.]

The ping-ponging conversation continues until you’re exhausted by indecision. But, oh, how that pen speaks to you!

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Such was the scenario when I saw this slightly used Edison Collier in Antique Marble on Gary Varner’s former Notegeist site.

I did my best to look away, but I couldn’t unsee that pen.

I appealed to my sense of reason. I already own an Edison Collier in Persimmon Swirl. (Talk about a looker!) AND, I already own an Edison Pearl in Antique Marble. So neither the model nor material were new to me.

I really DID do my best to ignore it, thinking that someone else would snap it up and make the decision moot. But no one did.

The price, I should mention, was excellent. A real steal. I stewed and rationalized and waffled in both the “buy” and “don’t buy” directions. I burned brain power and calories thinking about this, so strenuous was my thinking.

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You’re smart. You know how this particular tale turns out. I bought the pen.

The price was too good. The pen, too gorgeous. The Antique Marble acrylic is slightly translucent and beautifully swirled. There’s chatoyancy and depth and glow. The colors are my colors.

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The fine nib writes wonderfully. Upon receipt, I filled it with Montblanc JFK Blue Navy, and have been writing letters and journal entries with it often. I do not regret this purchase.

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But sometimes I don’t buy the pen. And this year I’m going to do my best to do what I said I was going to do LAST year- to be happy with what I already have. To USE what I already have.

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To buy or not to buy. That will always be the question.